‘It could have been prevented’ - Incurable cancer patient who inhaled asbestos while working wins legal case

James Woods, 60, of Norwich, who has incurable cancer after inhaling asbestos during his career. Pic

James Woods, 60, of Norwich, who has incurable cancer after inhaling asbestos during his career. Picture submitted by Irwin Mitchell Solicitors. - Credit: Archant

A former removal-firm worker with incurable cancer today spoke out about the danger asbestos poses to people.

James Woods, 60, known to his friends and colleagues as Jim, of Norwich, said it was 'shocking' that the substance has caused his life-limiting illness and stressed the importance of being aware of the risks that asbestos brings.

He has won a legal case against his former employees, for whom he worked when he was exposed to asbestos, and is now entitled to a payment from them.

Mr Woods spent much of his working life based at London County Hall where he worked for a removal firm.

But last year he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an incurable cancer that has been found to have been caused by exposure to asbestos in the building's basement.


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He said the pipework was often in a poor state and that dust and fibres fell onto the floor and contaminated his working environment.

'My mesothelioma diagnosis came as a complete shock to me.

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'It makes it even worse that the disease I'm suffering with could have been prevented by better maintenance of asbestos, warnings about the dangers it poses, or being provided with protective equipment so I didn't inhale it.

'I want to make sure what is happening to me doesn't happen to anyone else.

'It is extremely important that people working in older public buildings are better protected, which means telling them about the risks asbestos can pose.

'It also means managing asbestos correctly and taking steps to remove it from where it may still pose a threat to employees.

'I just want to make sure other people are aware of the terrible consequences inhaling asbestos can have and make sure other people don't end up going through the same thing I am.'

Mr Woods' comments come as the latest projections from the Health and Safety Executive suggest that the number of mesothelioma deaths per year in the UK will be around 2,500 for the rest of this decade before annual numbers begin to decline.

Lawyer Martyn Hayward, of Irwin Mitchell, said: 'Asbestos-related disease tends to be associated with heavy industries and tradesmen, but in recent years we have seen more and more cases like Jim's, where people have been exposed in public buildings, such as local government properties, hospitals and schools.

''We have now agreed Jim an interim payment with the insurers of Jim's former employers. This will help him cover the care costs he will face as his condition worsens and we hope by highlighting cases like Jim's that action will be taken to prevent other people developing asbestos-related diseases.'

'We hope by highlighting cases like Jim's that action will be taken to prevent other people developing asbestos-related diseases.'

Have you been affected by asbestos?

Email nicholas.carding@archant.co.uk

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