A FORMER labourer whose first job was working at Matlock Bath’s Masson Mills is looking for his old colleagues after being diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness.
David Smedley left school in 1974 and spent four years at the mills, as an employee of English Sewing Ltd.
The 55-year-old went on to join a plastics firm but, last September, he was diagnosed with a condition called peritoneal mesothelioma.
It is a cancer which attacks the lining of the abdomen and commonly caused by exposure to deadly asbestos dust.
Mr Smedley said he recalled working with asbestos during his time at the mills – which have since been converted into a shopping village and conference centre.
But he said he was no longer in touch with his former work colleagues, who would have been witnesses to his exposure.
He worked alongside a maintenance fitter and was responsible for the maintenance of machines throughout the factory.
Mr Smedley said: “There were a number of hot water pipes running on every floor – some of these were eight to 10 inches in diameter.
“There was a boiler room downstairs and a water turbine generating the power. All the pipes were lagged with asbestos insulation. If there was a leak, then the lagging would have to be removed. This was normally around a joint or flange. As the young lad, this was my responsibility.
“The sweeping up of all the residue dust would be dealt with by me as this would have been part of my job.”
Mr Smedley said this could happen once or twice a month, with the duration of the exposure varying because of the extent of the leak or amount of lagging which needed to be removed.
He said: “I believe there may have also been exposure when cleaning and maintaining the windows in the area, of which there were many.
“This is because we would have to put ladders up against the lagged pipes and there would have been disturbance of the lagging.”
Mr Smedley said he also thought there may have been asbestos in the boiler house.
He said: “I would only probably go in once or twice a month but it always seemed a very dusty atmosphere.
“Throughout the four years, my duties pretty much remained the same.
“At no time was I ever warned of the dangers of asbestos exposure or ever provided with any form of protective equipment.”
In 1978, Mr Smedley joined LB Plastics. He was later employed by Tarmac Roadstone as a lime spreader and boiler firm TI Parkray Ltd, of Belper – among other companies – but said he was not exposed to asbestos at these places.
He now lives in Chesterfield. Anyone who worked with Mr Smedley should call Dave Fisher, at Thompson Solicitors, on 0121 262 1256.