Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to the newest version of your browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of Construction News, please enable cookies in your browser.

Welcome to the Construction News site. As we have relaunched, you will have to sign in once now and agree for us to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Sterility claim may cost Laing millions

NEWS: Workers alleged to have suffered lead poisoning on station paint-stripping job

LAING could face a multi-million pound claim if workers who allegedly suffered lead poisoning during the redevelopment of Liverpool's Lime Street station have been left infertile.

Laing was main contractor on the job and specialist subcontractor Colebrand was employed to strip old paint from the roof.

Both firms are waiting to hear whether claims of up to £100,000 each for 160 construction workers and station staff will go ahead after tests showed dangerously high levels of lead in their blood nearly 12 months after leaving the site.

But if the workers involved in the work can prove that they have suffered infertility as a result of working at Lime Street, their claims could be expected to balloon to £500,000 each.

Solicitors for Merseyside TUC are compiling medical evidence from the 160 workers before proceeding with a class action against Colebrand and Laing. They hope that legal proceedings will begin next year.

Health and Safety Executive inspectors who visited the site advised Colebrand to ensure workers had protective clothing, full safety training and were monitored frequently for lead in their blood. The TUC solicitors claim the firm did not follow this advice.

Colebrand contracts manager Frank Kershaw would say only that the company had supplied appropriate protective equipment to workers during the contract and that it would 'sort out the allegations when and wherever they come to court'.

A Laing spokesman said: 'Laing Construction is proud of its safety record. Outside of press speculation we have not received notification either of any claims or intent to claim by any Laing employee or subcontrctor at Liverpool Lime Street.'

Meanwhile, an industrial tribunal in relation to Colebrand's work at Lime Street station will now be heard in November.

Peter Donnelly, of Liverpool, has been in dispute with Colebrand since he left the firm in autumn 2000.

Mr Donnelly is claiming that he was sacked for requesting a blood test over fears that he was suffering from lead poisoning. Colebrand said that he was made redundant on the basis of 'first in, last out' selection.

But Mr Donnelly contends that he was not the last worker to be employed and, as such, he should not have been made redundant.

He is claiming that he was sacked for acting as a 'whistleblower' on site safety standards.

The case opened at Liverpool on July 6 but was adjourned to give both sides time to gather evidence.

The TUC has set up a helpline for anyone who thinks they may be suffering from lead poisoning. The number is 0500 501 123.