Legal action is being considered for poorly Derbyshire coke workers

Lawyers representing more than 350 former British Coal coke oven workers who developed lung and skin cancer and respiratory diseases, as well as families who lost loved ones, have been given a High Court date to review their application for a Group Litigation Order.

Law firms Irwin Mitchell and Hugh James are applying for the order to begin a Group Action claim against British Coal, Coal Products Limited and National Smokeless Fuels Limited after hundreds of workers suffered illness following exposure to dust and fumes at coking plants around the country including Derbyshire.

It is alleged British Coal and their subsidiaries Coal Products and National Smokeless Fuels failed to identify risks associated with exposure to dust and fumes in this environment and as a result did not implement protective measures to prevent exposure when working around the coking ovens.

The High Court will hear the application on July 28 which, if successful, will allow the claims to be considered as a group with some clients chosen as test cases for the litigation.

Irwin Mitchell’s Roger Maddocks said: “The application for a Group Litigation Order against British Coal is the latest in a long line of important milestones in the fight for justice for former coke oven workers and the families who have lost loved ones who worked at these plants. We regularly see cases where people have developed serious and in some cases fatal cancers and respiratory diseases as a result of the failures of their employers to ensure they were not breathing in hazardous substances.

“Every worker has the right to be able to go to work every day without the fear of exposure to fumes and materials that could cause them serious health issues. Over the past two years we have been working to gather the evidence needed to ensure every worker affected by the poor management of risks in the coking industry will have their opportunity for justice. The application is another step towards this and one that we hope will help to provide answers.”

Irwin Mitchell and Hugh James are also investigating similar claims for former British Steel employees.

Kathryn Singh, of Hugh James, said: “The hearing will be an important step in helping former British Coal employees and their families to secure justice for the ill health they suffered as a result of working at these plants.”