Widow Appeals for Info about Working Conditions at Bristol Library


5th November 2019

The devastated widower of a former Bristol librarian who died from the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma has today issued an appeal for her ex-colleagues and maintenance contractors to come forward with information about the conditions of her workplace.

Judith Flook was diagnosed with the condition on 28th July 2017 having sought medical treatment for breathlessness and a persistent cough which started a month or so earlier.

She underwent a number of procedures including having fluid drained from her lungs, but her condition deteriorated rapidly, and she sadly passed away on 3rd March 2018.

Before her death, she told her husband Stuart that she believed she had been exposed to the deadly asbestos fibres whilst working as a part-time library assistant at Keynsham Library in Keynsham, Bristol, where she was employed by Bath & North East Somerset Council between 1999 and 2010.

Her family have now instructed law firm Simpson Millar’s specialist asbestos law team to help them investigate the circumstances surrounding her exposure, and whether more could, and should, have been done to protect her.

Stuart said: “We were devastated when Judith was diagnosed. She was so full of life before her health started to deteriorate, and to watch her become so ill so quickly was heart-breaking.

“Before she died, we spoke a lot about where she might have been exposed, and she clearly recalled that in 2004/2005 professional asbestos removal men were brought in to remove asbestos from the library and the council building.

“She also talked about how she went back into the library once it had re-opened and found white dust in one of the cupboards which hadn’t been removed. She hadn’t realised then what it was, or how dangerous it could be, so she simply cleaned it up with a dustpan and brush.”

Her former ex-colleague Catherine Cutler also describes that in the library there were dimpled effect asbestos ceiling tiles, which occasionally would fall down and end up on the floor, creating general dust.

Stuart added: “I’m desperate now for answers as to if more could have been done to protect her and would be incredibly grateful to any of her ex-colleagues, or people that worked on the library, to come forward with information that might help.”

Helen Grady of Simpson Millar’s specialist industrial disease team who is representing Stuart in his battle for answers, said: “We are looking to speak to anyone who worked at Keynsham Library between 1999 and 2010, or anyone who worked on the building in 2004 or 2005, to gain an understanding of the working conditions and relevant safety procedures that were in place at the time to protect staff from exposure to the harmful dust and fibres.

“Judith’s diagnosis came as a real shock to both herself and Stuart, and since her death, he has been very distressed at the thought that his wife’s illness and death could have been avoided if the correct safety procedures had been in place.

“We hope that we can secure some of the many answers Stuart and his family need in order to move forward with their lives.”

Anyone with information can contact Helen Grady at Simpson Millar on freephone 0808 129 3320.

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