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Family of former laboratory inspector appeal for information following his asbestos-related death

The family of a factory worker are appealing for his former colleagues to come forward with information regarding the use of asbestos at ‘Chloride’ factories in the 1960s-1980s following his recent death from an asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma.

Posted on 28 October 2022

Peter Kirkman, from Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, died in 2022 aged 81 following his mesothelioma diagnosis in 2021. He was the main carer for his wife Elizabeth which became increasingly difficult as his health declined.

Peter began working for the battery company known as ‘Chloride’ in 1966 at their Clifton site, near Swinton, Greater Manchester. He also spent some time working at another of the company’s sites in Over Hulton and worked for the company until 1988. He believed that he may have been exposed to asbestos for the duration of his employment at Chloride.

Chloride was involved in making batteries and was known by various names including ‘Chloride Industrial Batteries Limited’, ‘Electric Power Storage Limited’, ‘Industrial Batteries Limited’ and ‘Chloride Motive Power.’

Peter began working in quality control on the shop floor and in the ‘Torpedo Lab’. He later became an inspector, and finally a chemist.

Peter and Elizabeth Kirkman.

Peter believed that most of the asbestos exposure took place at Chloride’s factory in Clifton (specifically Clifton Junction). He believed he was exposed on the shop floor when pipe repairs were carried out. He was also have been exposed in the labs due to asbestos being used in tripod gauze.

The factory at Clifton Junction had a large tube oven with painted pipes which were lagged with asbestos. The lagging on the pipes looked like plaster of Paris and was dry and brittle due to the heat. Repairs were carried out on the pipes on a regular basis by repairmen. Peter worked regularly in the same areas where repairs were being carried out and he saw dust and fragments of asbestos falling from the pipes while they were being worked on. The repairmen hit the lagging with hammers and chisels, sending fragments of asbestos dust and debris into the air and on to the floor.

During his time in the laboratory, Peter regularly used white-coloured asbestos mats when working with Bunsen burners and hot objects. Peter repositioned and relocated these mats and recalls that the edges of the asbestos mats crumbled with use. The act of interfering with broken and frayed asbestos mats caused Peter to be exposed to asbestos dust and fibres at close proximity. When the mats were particularly old, they cracked, further increasing the amount of exposure.

During his time in the lab Peter also used a fine wire gauze which contained an asbestos circle in its centre. He handled these gauzes on most working days. Peter also recalls working in the vicinity of fume cupboards which were likely made with asbestos sheets.

Peter was not provided with any adequate mask or respiratory protection to protect him from the dust. Also, he was not given any advice concerning measures that ought to have been taken to reduce the risk of inhaling asbestos dust and fibres, and no one warned him about the dangers of working with asbestos.

Peter began experiencing asbestos-related disease symptoms in 2018 and was diagnosed with mesothelioma in July 2021.

Kevin Johnson, partner in the Leigh Day asbestos team, said:

“We wish to hear from witnesses who may have worked with Peter and/or can give us further information on the presence of asbestos at the company’s sites in Clifton in Greater Manchester and Over Hulton, near Bolton. This information can relate to lagged pipes, asbestos gauze on tripods, or any other relevant information concerning asbestos exposure at the factories.

“Any relevant information will help Peter’s family’s legal claim.”

If you can provide any information that would support the claim, please contact Kevin Johnson on 0161 393 3588 or ktjohnson@leighday.co.uk

Kevin Johnson
Asbestos and mesothelioma Industrial disease

Kevin Johnson

Leading Liverpool, Cheshire and North West mesothelioma claims lawyer

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