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

The family of a former joiner are appealing for information from colleagues throughout his working life to help them piece together clues to possible exposure to lethal asbestos.

Posted on 10 May 2023

Harrison ('Harry') Fairless worked as a joiner in various dockyards, power stations, oil refineries and steelworks throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s in the Scunthorpe, Tyne & Wear and West Burton areas. His family believe that these workplaces contributed to his death aged 87 from mesothelioma, an incurable form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure.

Harry was born in South Shields, Tyne & Wear and grew up there with his parents. He attended Cleadon Park School in South Shields and resided in the area up until 1960 when he moved to Scunthorpe with his wife Brenda.

Between 1957 and 1960, Harry worked on dockyards in Tyne & Wear and South Shields including the Naval dockyard. He would sometimes have to get the ferry across the River Tyne from South Shields to North shields which his family believe means he also worked at Smith's Dock.

Harry Fairless.

Harry did joinery work on various ships, fitting them out and believe that he would have been exposed to significant amounts of asbestos when working on board ships on a daily basis.

He was also likely exposed to asbestos while working at West Burton Power station from 1963 to 67. He was employed by three different companies doing work at the Power Station:
  • Taylor Woodrow & Co - West Burton Power station- 1963 to 1965.
  • Holst & Co - West Burton Power station-1965 to 1967.
  • Sir Alfred McAlpine - West Burton Power station- 1967.
Harry's family believe that he had to climb up inside the cooling towers and go down underneath the ground level into the basements doing joinery work. They also recall that he worked on the ash hopper and floor slabs. The Power station was very busy with lots of other trades from different companies working there at the same time. When Harry came home, he was covered in dust and dirt which may have included asbestos.

His family also believe that Harry was likely exposed while working as a joiner at various locations under different employers across Scunthorpe. He worked at the Steelworks in Scunthorpe, including the Anchor Steelworks and also likely had some asbestos exposure while working at Lindsey Oil Refinery, Conoco Oil refinery and at Drax Power Station.

Harry was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an asbestos related cancer in June 2022, and died that same month aged 87.
Following Harry's death his wife Brenda contacted law firm Leigh Day to investigate the potential use of asbestos at Harry's workplace. Harry's family are appealing for former colleagues to come forward with any relevant information.

Leigh Day partner in the asbestos team Helen Ashton, who is representing Harry, said:

"We have very little information about the nature of Harry's exposure, so we need former colleagues of any workers from any of the named locations to come forward and share memories of the working conditions and the use of asbestos on sites at around the same time periods that Harry was there. ln particular, we are eager to speak to joiners, or other trades who worked amongst joiners. This will greatly assist with our investigations.

If you worked at any of the named locations and either remember working with Harry or recall anything to do with asbestos being used or disturbed at the named sites, then please contact Alice Mapp at Leigh Day by email or telephone:

Email: amapp@leighday.co.uk Phone: 0161 572 5308
Helen Ashton
Asbestos and mesothelioma Asbestos claims Industrial disease

Helen Ashton

Leading Derbyshire, Yorkshire and East Midlands mesothelioma lawyer

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