Widow’s memorial day asbestos vow

THE widow of a Hawick man killed by exposure to asbestos has vowed to continue to campaign for better working conditions.

Margaret Turnbull is the wife of Walter Turnbull, who died aged 83 in December last year of mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos.

The devoted husband, father of four, grandfather and great-grandfather was exposed to the deadly dust while working as an engineer at Dingleton Hospital in Melrose and Bangour Hospital in West Lothian in the 1950s and 1960s. He carried out boiler repairs and overhauls of the boiler and pipe work systems which involved the removal of asbestos lagging.

“To have my husband taken away from us because of illness he suffered while carrying out his day-to-day work was just devastating,” said Mrs Turnbull. “He was never given any warnings about the dangers of asbestos, and never provided with any masks to stop him inhaling the dust but when he got home from work he would be covered head to toe in dust. It was impossible to avoid it.”

Mrs Turnbull spoke out in the aftermath of the recent Workers’ Memorial Day, an event held to raise awareness of the dangers that can be posed by workplaces due to negligence by employers.

“I hope Workers’ Memorial Day reminds employers of the need to protect their workers from any dangers to avoid unnecessary injuries or illness from just doing your job. Sadly nothing can bring my husband back but I just hope things can be improved so that others do not have to suffer the pain of losing a family member just because of the work they carried out.”

Elaine Mitchell, from law firm Irwin Mitchell, said “basic failings” were at fault for the loss of workers like Mr Turnbull.

She said: “Time and time again we are approached for help by people whose lives have been shattered by the loss of a loved one at work.

“Unfortunately, many accidents in the workplace are the result of basic failings in following health and safety guidance. Thousands die from industrial illness such as those caused by asbestos exposure and the numbers are shocking.”