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Ticking timebomb of chemical related cancer cases
A leading solicitor has warned of a ‘ticking timebomb’ of chemical related cancer cases as workers exposed to carcinogenic chemicals in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s develop potentially fatal cancers.
Pauline Chandler from Manchester law firm, Pannone, is a specialist in industrial disease cases and says she is noticing a, “Small but highly significant”, rise in bladder cancer cases being referred to her. “She says, “my fear is that workers in a number of industries, including; the chemicals sector, paint production, rubber manufacture and pigments and dyestuffs production, will develop cancers and be unaware that they are related to their past employment. The medical profession have a major role to play here, in that they are the first point of contact with patients who develop symptoms and obviously the clinical aspects must take priority. However, if a person has been negligently exposed to carcinogenic chemicals, doctors and specialist consultants can help by highlighting the causational factors involved to their patients.”
Ms Chandler has recently settled a bladder cancer case, that of 62 year old David Pechey, from Bramhall, near Stockport, who worked as a Chemist in the laboratories at Ciba-Geigy in Paisley, Scotland, from 1975 to 1982, before moving down to the company’s Clayton Aniline site in Manchester. He eventually held senior marketing roles, including Head of Global Accounts and Regional Business Line Head for Europe. His job involved extensive travel, especially to Europe, the Middle East and the USA, until his illness precluded him from making as many trips as he previously did. He was then made redundant in 2008. He has now received a substantial five figure settlement after his legal action through Pannone.
His exposure to carcinogenic chemicals took place during his employment at the Ciba-Geigy plant in Paisley. The plant was involved in the manufacture of pigments for colouring paints, inks and plastics and the chemicals he was exposed to included: dichlorobenzidine, dimethoxybenzidine and nitro-biphenyl. All three have been linked with causing cancer.
Said David, “When I first started in the labs, health and safety was not as strict as is required today and gloves were very often not worn. We were also exposed to the fumes the chemicals gave off. Workers in the plant had routine urine cytology tests to check for cancer but lab personnel were not given such tests whilst I was there.”
A test in 2004 which came back ‘not clear’ raised David’s suspicions that all was not well, but despite him challenging his firm’s external Occupational Health Consultant, David was told his ‘not clear’ sample could have been caused by an infection.
It was in 2007, following another suspect test that he received the shattering news that he had bladder cancer. He immediately began a gruelling course of treatment which lasted for a full three years and often resulted in him feeling ill and which often caused internal bleeding. Thankfully he has now been given the ‘all clear’ by his consultant at Stockport’s Stepping Hill Hospital.
David Pechey’s decision to take legal action against his former employers was he says, “borne out of the desire to highlight the problem of those, who like me, found themselves exposed to carcinogenic chemicals through no fault of their own.” He is also keen to point out that the incubation period for these types of industrially-related cancers can be, as in his own case, 25 years or more and employees and former employees need to remain vigilant.
He turned to Pauline Chandler at Pannone, who subsequently highlighted Ciba-Geigy’s failings in providing safe systems of work and their responsibility for exposing David to dangerous cancer-causing chemicals and has now negotiated a substantial five figure settlement for Mr Pechey.
More bladder cancer cases
Said Ms Chandler, “Sadly we are seeing an increasing number of bladder cancer cases arising from peoples negligent exposure to cancer causing chemicals. I am pleased to have been able to help David Pechey reach this settlement, which it should be stressed was only made the day before the case was due to go to trial. The settlement has also been made on a provisional basis, which means in a worst case scenario of the cancer returning, Mr Pechey would be free to make a further claim. We all sincerely hope that will not be necessary.”
For legal advice on work related cancer claims please contact us on 0800 0384 384.