Widow in fight for can worker Tom

WIDOW Edna Long launched a £150,000 compensation claim against Heinz after her husband died from mesothelioma in 2004.

Tom Long, of Orrell, who worked as an engineer at the firm’s Standish Bradley Lane canning factory from 1957 until 1981, developed incurable cancer which left him unable to breathe properly and able only to digest liquids through a hole in his stomach.

At his inquest, the Bolton coroner ruled his death was caused by industrial disease from the asbestos fibres he came into contact with while working at Heinz.

Tom was responsible for maintaining the self-heating can facilities which were in a small shed outside the main factory.

Within each can was an asbestos-lined inner tube, which had to be manufactured from asbestos sheeting.

Tom often had to separate these sheets, which caused him to breathe in asbestos fibres and dust which rose into the atmosphere. He would also have to remove inserts from faulty cans and had to handle the asbestos.

Edna remembers Heinz sending Tom, in about 1962 or 1963, to the premises of Turner Brothers to see how raw asbestos was turned into the finished product.

He retired in 1981 and in 2001 started feeling an acute stabbing pain at the base of his left lung.

By 2003 he was becoming breathless even after very short walks and after medical tests, doctors confirmed he had mesothelioma.

A doctor’s report said the disease shortened Tom’s life by just under six years, and now his family is fighting for Heinz to admit that its negligence led to his death.