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Written by Laura Magson

Boyes Turner mesothelioma and asbestos claims team were instructed to act for Ian who was diagnosed with lung cancer. 

Asbestos exposure

When Ian left school, he joined Dunlop Semtex Limited, working at their premises in Brynmawr. Whilst Ian always knew them as Dunlop Semtex Limited, they eventually changed their name to become Contract Services Division Limited. He was employed by Dunlop Semtex from 1969 to1981. 

Dunlop Semtex was a rubber factory who manufactured vinyl tiles, underlay and carpet tiles. Asbestos was used to make these fire resistant.

He was initially employed as a runner and his job was to take mail from the main factory up to the smaller premises up the road. He was then based in the raw materials store where he remained until the last 12 months of his employment when he became the goods inward clerk.

Ian remembered that asbestos was used in large quantities by the factory and once a month a ship loaded with asbestos docked at Avonmouth with the asbestos being bound for Dunlop Semtex. He recalls that approximately 20,000 bags of asbestos came in on the ship and then had to be delivered. The factory used approximately 1,000 of asbestos a day.

It took about ten days for all of the asbestos to be unloaded from the ship and delivered to Dunlop Semtex. There was a constant stream of lorries delivering asbestos to the factory during this time. As a labourer he was sometimes allocated to the asbestos gang. The asbestos came in hessian sacks. The bags were unloaded from the ships by way of grabber hooks. The grabber hooks often broke the asbestos bags and damaged them and ripped them apart.

Once the lorry was in the store a conveyor belt was used to unload the lorry. The asbestos gang unloaded the asbestos sacks onto the conveyor belt. The loading and unloading of the sacks was all done by hand. At the time the factory had a special machine which was sometimes used for the unloading of the asbestos sacks (rather than them being unloaded by hand). The machine slid its blade underneath the cardboard and then picked up all of the bags on that piece of cardboard and slid them out of the lorry. The machine then transferred the asbestos sacks onto a pallet ready for storage in the store.  The blades on the machine often ripped through the bags causing asbestos dust to be released into the atmosphere and into Ian’s breathing zone.

Ian was able to produce photographs of the asbestos and in particular the broken asbestos bags. He also had been given a copy of a letter which showed a warning being given to the buying manager at Dunlop Semtex regarding the dangers of asbestos being carried on the lorries.

Diagnosis and symptoms

Ian first started having problems with his health in around the summer of 2015. He had pains in his stomach and he went to see his GP who prescribed him with medication which initially eased his symptoms. However, Ian deteriorated. The first two CT scans that were taken proved inconclusive. He had some abnormal blood tests which lead to a PET scan. This revealed a discrepancy so he was referred to Llandoch Hospital for a biopsy which sadly revealed a small cell lung carcinoma. 

Ian undertook chemotherapy and continued to suffer from breathlessness and tiredness. Up until his diagnosis, he was working as a general handyman, but was signed off sick from work from December 2015 following his diagnosis.

Legal claim

Ian contacted us in February 2016. We swiftly took a witness statement from him about his asbestos exposure and obtained supportive witness statements from another witness. We notified the claim to the successors to Dunlop Semtex and quickly obtained a medical report from a consultant respiratory physician which supported a diagnosis of asbestos related lung cancer.

Ian had been a smoker for many years, but the fact that someone with lung cancer may have smoked in the past, does not preclude them from succeeding in a claim for compensation for asbestos related lung cancer.

Ian’s case was settled for a six figure sum in less than 12 months and during his lifetime.