The devastated daughter of a former Ford employee is seeking justice after her father died from asbestos poisoning which she believes he developed at the company’s now-closed Leamington foundry.
At an inquest last Friday into the death of Ray Taylor, 57, Warwickshire’s Deputy Coroner Simon Charlton heard how Mr Taylor had been diagnosed with mesothelioma in February this year and died last month.
Mesothelioma is an incurable cancer and its only known cause is historic exposure to asbestos. And the coroner’s verdict was that Mr Taylor died as a result of the disease.
A keen gardener, Mr Taylor kept two allotments which he worked on daily, up to the time when he started to suffer from the symptoms associated with the mesothelioma.
A statement from Mr Taylor’s family says: “Ray was a loving husband to Caroline and father to Louise, Emma and Susan.
“He will always be remembered as a kind caring and loving person, always willing to help people in any way he could.
“We will never forget the short time we had with him and will treasure all of the good memories we have.
“He will be sadly missed by all.”
Emma was present when her father recalled his working conditions while at the Ford factory where he was employed from 1978 and worked for 28 years.
It was Mr Taylor’s belief that he was regularly exposed to asbestos during the time that he worked at the site and that this was the only place he was ever exposed to the hazardous material.
Emma explained that her father initially worked on the mould lines and described pipework running through the factory which was insulated with asbestos.
He described how the insulation would be damaged by the daily wear and tear of factory life and was left in poor repair.
He also described how fork lift trucks would regularly bang into the pipes with their loads as they were moving between the storage racking and moving pallets about - knocking into the pipework and causing the insulation to become damaged.
The asbestos which was knocked off the pipework fell to the floor and would either be walked over and trodden in, or swept up, both of which caused further dust and fibre to be re-circulated into the area where he worked.
The area underwent significant re-configuration in about 1984 which caused further significant disturbance of asbestos.
After the 1984 upgrade, Mr Taylor moved to work on the new vertical flask mould lines 4 and 5. The furnaces had seals made of a thick rope with heat resistant properties to withstand temperatures of 1,600 degrees centigrade.
For efficiency purposes, it was important there was a good seal on the furnace.
It was Mr Taylor’s belief that Ford used asbestos rope to obtain that seal.
He would cut the rope and fit it underneath the lid of the furnace.
All of this created asbestos dust to be released into the area where Ray worked.
Alida Coates, an expert asbestos-related disease lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who is representing Mr Taylor’s family, said: “I met Ray shortly after he had been diagnosed with mesothelioma to discuss his recollections of asbestos exposure whilst employed at Ford.
“During my investigations I have also spoken with other men who worked at the foundry, who have provided additional information about the presence of asbestos at the site.
“More worryingly, it is my understanding that there are a number of other similar cases among those who previously worked at the site.
“Only a small proportion of those exposed to asbestos will go on to develop mesothelioma. “However, once diagnosed, it is a very aggressive and, sadly, incurable cancer.
“We hope that anyone who has information about the use of asbestos at the site will come forward and provide additional evidence about how Ray came into contact the material.”
Anyone with information on the presence of asbestos at the Ford foundry can contact Alida Coates at Irwin Mitchell on 0121 214 5407 / 5230 or email Alida.Coates@IrwinMitchell.com
Mr Taylor’s funeral will be held at Oakley Wood Crematorium’s South Chapel on Friday July 24 at 2.15pm.
Flowers are welcome or donations, if desired, can be made to Mesothelioma UK and may be left at the service or sent to c/o H.J.Dawson, 22 George Street, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, CV31 1ET.