Former Steel Worker Died of Mesothelioma

March 2020

An inquest into the death of a former South Wales steel worker has ruled that he died as a result of mesothelioma, an incurable cancer linked to asbestos exposure.

At just 16 years old, Graham Grist from Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent joined Richard Thomas & Baldwin Limited as an apprentice instrument technician working at Ebbw Vale steel works where he was responsible for temperature regulation and control – making and replacing thermocouples that were made from asbestos.

Leaving for a brief period to serve with the Royal Air Force during the war, Mr Grist remained with the company for more than 56 years, moving up through the ranks from his apprentice role to eventually become a qualified instrument technician before he retired in 1991.

A healthy and active man until he fell ill he was still a keen walker until April of last year when he started to experience breathlessness and was forced to visit his GP.

Just one month later, on May 17th, 2019, he was informed of his devastating mesothelioma diagnosis, and on September 26th 2019 he sadly passed away at the age of 93, and an inquest into his death which took place on March 12th confirmed that he had died from the industrial disease which is caused by asbestos exposure.

Before his death, Mr Grist appointed leading Asbestos Solicitors at Simpson Millar to help him determine whether more could have been done to protect him from deadly asbestos dust.

Speaking of his time at the steel works before he died Mr Grist recalled coming into regular contact with asbestos which was present throughout the steelworks.

In a statement provided to Simpson Millar he said that there was ‘asbestos lagging all over the place’, but that he was provided with no protective equipment. He said, “We never wore any masks – nobody did back then’.

Speaking following the inquest his wife Brenda said, “Graham’s diagnosis came as such a shock to all of us. He was always very active, but as soon as the mesothelioma symptoms started he began to deteriorate so rapidly. Before long, he was forced to give up walking which he so enjoyed, and he lost much of his independence.

“This has been a truly devastating time for the whole family, and while the inquest has provided many answers it is very difficult to know that his death could have been prevented had he been protected from asbestos exposure.”

Industrial Disease Lawyer Gavin Evans of Simpson Millar, which is representing Mrs Grist said, “Mesothelioma contributes to 2,500 deaths annually and this is a figure that continues to increase and devastate the lives of victims as well as their families.

Known originally as Richard, Thomas & Baldwin Limited, the business was later named British Steel Corporation, then British Steel Limited, and eventually Corus UK Limited.

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