London – The widow of a former Goodyear Dunlop Tyres employee in the UK is seeking legal action against the tire-maker after a coroner ruled that his death was caused by exposure to industrial chemicals at the plant.
Fred Spruce, 72, died of bladder cancer which, according to his widow's legal representatives, was caused by contamination at the Goodyear factory in Wolverhampton, where he worked for 42 years.
South Staffordshire Coroner Andrew Haigh concluded that Mr Spruce’s death came after 42 years of "exposure to carcinogenic chemicals," according to a 7 June press statement from Irwin Mitchell Solicitors - Valerie Spruce's legal team.
The inquest findings, issued 23 Dec 2015, "came as a shock to Valerie and, understandably, she’s now keen to find answers surrounding Fred’s exposure to the deadly by-products which caused the metastatic carcinoma," said solicitor Alex Shorely.
“Due to the nature of industrial disease, many people are not diagnosed until decades after they were exposed," he added. Spruce worked at the Stafford Road branch of Goodyear between 1961 and 2003.
Irwin Mitchell also claimed that "due to the methods used to process and manufacture vehicle tires, the work environment may be contaminated with dusts, gases, vapours, fumes, and chemical byproducts to which workers can be exposed through inhalation and skin absorption."
Asked to comment on the issue, Goodyear spokeswoman Nichola Ellis told ERJ that the company had not been contacted in relation to this particular case. "As a manufacturer, we take our responsibilities to our associates very seriously.
"Goodyear facilities, including the Wolverhampton plant, operate in accordance with applicable EU health and safety regulations, including those related to the use and handling of all chemicals," she said in a written statement to ERJ.
Goodyear, Ellis added, has an occupational health department that cares for both current employees and retirees. The spokeswoman said she could not comment further as Goodyear had not seen the details of the case or, even, the coroner's report. "We have appropriate safety and industrial hygiene procedures in place, as well as any required use of engineering controls and personal protective equipment.
"At this point we do not have any further information on this particular case," she concluded. Spruce’s widow and her legal team have asked former colleagues of her husband to come forward and help with the legal investigation.
According to Shorely, Irwin Mitchell is continuing to build up the case, but has not contacted Goodyear about the claims.