46-year-old Steel Erector Diagnosed with Fatal Asbestos Cancer


A Devon steel erector aged just 46 has been left shell-shocked after being diagnosed as suffering from mesothelioma earlier this year. Mark Piper, from Crediton, believes he may have been exposed to asbestos while working for Michael Thorne Construction between 1998 and 2011, when the firm went into liquidation.

46-year-old Steel Erector Diagnosed with Fatal Asbestos Cancer

During that time his work involved building extensions on several old commercial properties and he was required to remove asbestos downpipes and guttering using a grinder.

He spent time working at several sites in Devon, including the St Regis Paper Mill, the Yeo Valley factory in Blagdon, the Greendale Business Park in Exeter and Hawkridge Farm.

Still Employed When Diagnosed

Mr Piper, who was still employed in the construction industry when he was diagnosed, said: “My diagnosis was a complete shock to all of us and we are really struggling to come to terms with what it means for us now and in the future."

“I was never given any training on the correct way to handle asbestos and avoid exposure or provided with any protective equipment to prevent me from being exposed to the substance."

“I know that this disease will limit the amount of time I will spend with my family and I can only hope that my former colleagues at Michael Thorne Construction will come forward with the information my legal team needs to provide the answers I’m looking for about my exposure to asbestos."

Dangers Recognised Since the 1960s

Gavin Evans, Partner and Head of Industrial Disease at the Bristol office of Simpson Millar solicitors, who specialises in dealing with industrial disease cases like this commented:

“Mesothelioma is a particularly aggressive form of cancer and usually develops on the lining of the lung – the pleura. In at least 90% of cases it is caused by exposure to asbestos and so it is highly likely that Mr Piper’s mesothelioma has been caused by his previous asbestos exposure."

"It is a terrible condition which is untreatable. The fact that Mr Piper was exposed to asbestos fibres between 1998 and 2011 is atrocious, given that the dangers of inhaling asbestos fibres – even in very small amounts – has been widely recognised since at least the 1960s.”

It's easy to see why greater safety measures must be adopted to protect people working in environments where they could be at risk of asbestos exposure. Sadly, we're still seeing many people who have been exposed in the past falling ill, and some employers are still not adopting best practice in keeping workers safe.

Our Industrial Disease team at Simpson Millar LLP are experienced in supporting people who have fallen ill after being exposed to asbestos in the past and their families.

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