FORMER coking plant workers in Dinnington, Wales and Aston who developed serious diseases after breathing in harmful dust and fumes could be entitled to compensation following a landmark ruling.
A High Court judge has ordered that workers suffering from lung and skin cancers, as well as conditions such as chronic bronchitis, are entitled to payouts as their illnesses were caused by exposure to by-products emitted from coke ovens.
The ruling was made in favour of eight workers who took court action because of breathing in noxious substances at the Phurnacite plant in South Wales.
Hundreds of claims were pending the result of the case, and the ruling could pave the way for thousands of workers, or their families if they have passed away, across the UK to seek compensation.
NACODS General Secretary Bleddyn Hancock said: “Thousands of former coke oven workers or their families may now be able to claim compensation if the workers’ contracted these illnesses as a result of their work at any coke ovens in Britain since 1954.”
“Not only men that worked at National Coal Board plants but those run by British Steel and private firms may also eventually be able to claim compensation.”
“The filthy conditions these men worked in were unbelievable. The Phurnacite plant was called the dirtiest factory in Europe.”
“Our solicitors, Hugh James in Cardiff, have done a great job in securing this success.”
Former plants that used coke ovens include Dinnington Main Colliery and Waleswood Colliery, both owned by the National Coal Board and Brookhouse Colliery in Aston-cum-Aughton, owned by British Steel.
Law firm Irwin Mitchel in Sheffield described the decision as ‘very significant’ and said it had already been contacted by more than 50 people who were waiting for the judgement.
The union has arranged for a free helpline for possible claimants to get more information.
The number to call is 0800 652 5524.