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April 1, 2022

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Daughter of former steel worker highlights dangers related to asbestos following father’s death

The daughter of a former steel erector is working to raise awareness of the dangers related to asbestos after her father’s death from asbestos-related lung cancer.

asbestos, serpentine fibersTerence Burns, from Widnes, died from mesothelioma, a terminal cancer of the lining of the lungs, most commonly associated with exposure to asbestos, usually decades previously.

Terence’s daughter, Kate Edgar, 66, instructed asbestos-related disease experts at Royds Withy King to investigate a compensation claim after a post-mortem confirmed the cause of death as malignant mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure.

Terence had worked for over 20 companies throughout his 40-year career, which was sadly cut short by an industrial injury in 1986. One of his proudest moments was when, at the age of 29, in November 1960, he became the first person to cross the new Runcorn-Widnes bridge, which has since been renamed the Silver Jubilee Bridge.

As a steel erector, he jumped across a 2ft gap to guide the final steer girder into position on the Runcorn side of the River Mersey. This exploit earned him the accolade of Spider-Man, and his “daring leap” 280ft above the river made a splash in many of the national newspapers at the time.

Terence later worked as a steel erector for Fleming Brothers (Structural Engineers) Limited between 1964 and 1982 for Petricon Structures Limited between 1984 and 1988.

The companies were contracted to sites owned by Imperial Chemical Industries Limited (“ICI”), namely Castner Kellner, Rocksavage and Pilkington Sullivan. It was Terence’s job to dismantle old steelwork and pipework which included knocking off old asbestos lagging, exposing him to asbestos dust and fibres. Kate’s claim was eventually settled against the companies’ insurers in a six-figure sum.

Read: Dr Mavis Nye on how living with Mesothelioma impacts her life

On 28 April, Kate will be joining the legal team at Royds Withy King in marking Workers’ Memorial Day, raising awareness of the dangers of asbestos in the workplace.

Laura Wilkinson, the Specialist Asbestos-Related Disease Lawyer at Royds Withy King, who represented Kate, said: “Sadly, Terence’s story is not an unfamiliar one for those who worked at ICI sites and other heavily industrialised areas up to the 1980’s.

“Asbestos was widely used as an insulation material in many shapes and forms and was installed, interfered with and removed, which released asbestos dust and fibres to which countless workers were exposed.”

Terence started experiencing pain on the left side of his upper body and in his stomach in early 2020. He underwent a chest x-ray and CT scan, and a build-up of fluid was found on his left lung. A pleural drain removed 1600ml of fluid and he was later fitted with an Indwelling Pleural Catheter to remove further build-ups over the following few months.

Terence’s condition deteriorated from October, and he sadly passed away on 3 November 2020, less than seven months after his initial diagnosis.

Kate said: “Before his diagnosis, dad had been active despite his age. When we saw dad – an independent person with a strong, adventurous spirit – struggling with pains in his side, we knew instinctively something was wrong.

“However, dad’s diagnosis with mesothelioma still came as an incredible shock to me and the rest of the family.

“Almost a year and a half has passed since losing dad and we all miss him terribly. Whilst there is nothing we can do to change what happened to him, we can at least honour his memory by sharing his story and making others aware of the impact that asbestos has, even today.”

Workers’ Memorial Day, held on 28 April, will remember those who have died as a result of their employment and campaign to improve health and safety standards in the workplace by increasing protection for employees.

Asbestos podcast

Listen, as Dr Mavis Nye talks about her work as a campaigner for the dangers of asbestos exposure and the lack of awareness that still exists, and how living with Mesothelioma impacts her life.

Sleep practitioner Lisa Artis also provides her top tips to improve your sleep.

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