Asbestosis sufferer’s plea for greater protection in schools
ARETIRED school caretaker is calling for more protection from asbestos for staff and pupils after being diagnosed with cancer – 40 years since his exposure to the material.
Roger Chandler-Jones first got a job as a caretaker in 1965 but was immediately exposed to boiler room pipework covered in asbestos lagging.
The 79-year-old went on to work at two Bristol schools for more than 40 years.
He started having breathing problems shortly after returning from a holiday in 2016, followed by several years of tests and investigations.
The father of two and grandfather of four was diagnosed with asbestosis in 2019 – a life-changing illness characterised by scarring of the lungs following asbestos exposure.
Roger instructed lawyers at Irwin
Mitchell to investigate – with the local authority’s insurers admitting liability for Roger’s asbestos exposure.
Now, after receiving a settlement from Bristol City Council in connection with his illness, Roger, of Henleaze, Bristol, has called on local authorities to do everything they can to ensure asbestos is always properly managed.
Roger, who is married to Jill, 76, said: “Throughout my working life I was never warned about the dangers of asbestos, so it is devastating that I have developed this condition.
“I feel like my breathlessness has only worsened in recent years and while I try to stay active, I only feel comfortable if Jill is with me.
“I used to go swimming but have had to give that up and would always be ready to carry out jobs round the house and DIY tasks.
“However, now even walking to the local shop for a paper is a struggle and Jill has commented that I have less of a get up and go attitude
than I had before. The settlement is very welcome but I hope that lessons can be learned from a case like mine.
“The issue of asbestos in schools is incredibly serious and the safety of everyone on such sites should always be the top priority.
“No one else should suffer like I have.”
Roger had several different jobs before he became a caretaker at
Westbury Park Junior School in 1965.
Roger said: “My father had been a caretaker, so I was following in his footsteps in a way. I had all manner of duties, from security and heating to managing the cleaners on the site. I worked daily in the boiler room and the pipework was all covered in asbestos lagging.”
In 1971, Roger started work at Henleaze Infant and Junior School and remained there until his retirement in 2006.
Again, he recalled pipes and boilers lagged with asbestos, as well as underground ducts and hot water tanks that featured the material. There were also prefabricated classrooms that had asbestos roofing.
Roger’s case comes after The Government’s Work and Pensions select committee agreed to launch its own investigation into asbestos in schools following evidence from campaigners that conditions caused by asbestos are the biggest health and safety risk in the UK.