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“Important milestone” reached in coke oven workers’ legal battle for compensation

Published in News at 11:23, Monday March 23rd, 2015.

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Lawyers representing more than 350 former British Coal coke oven workers who developed lung and skin cancer and respiratory diseases, as well as families who lost loved ones, have taken the next step in their legal battle by applying to the High Court for a Group Litigation Order.

Welsh law firm Hugh James, along with Irwin Mitchell, has made the application in relation to claims against British Coal, Coal Products Limited and National Smokeless Fuels Limited which concern dust and fume exposure suffered by hundreds of workers at a number of coking plants around the UK, including South Wales – where 145 of the claimants are based. In the Caerphilly area there are 20 claimants.

It is alleged that British Coal and their subsidiaries, Coal Products and National Smokeless Fuels failed to identify the risks associated with exposure to dust and fumes and, as a result, did not implement protective measures to prevent workers’ exposure to the harmful dust and fumes when working around, or on, the coking ovens.

Kathryn Singh, Partner at Hugh James, said: “These illnesses have been caused by the negligence of employers in failing to provide safe working conditions, for which many people in South Wales are now paying the price.
“There are also a number of people in Wales who worked at various British Steel plants whose claims are being investigated, and we will be following a similar process for those in respect of seeking a court hearing date.”

• Hugh James Solicitors will be holding a free seminar to provide guidance to former coke oven workers and the families of deceased coke oven workers who could be eligible for compensation.

The seminar, to be held in Bedwas, will be open to former British Coal, British Steel and British Benzol and Coal Distillation Limited employees and their families.

Hugh James lawyer James Gibson said: “Anyone who worked at one of these plants and believes they may have symptoms of these diseases, which could include breathlessness, chest pains and excessive coughing, are urged to come along free of charge, to find out more about what help is available to them.”

The seminar will be held on Tuesday March 24 between 11am and 3pm at the BTM Bandroom, Newport Road, Bedwas, CF83 8AA.

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