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The Hidden Killer - Chris Morgan's Story (Long Version) - Transcript

Went to college, did the usual things as an apprentice, yeah.

And I was an apprentice pipe fitter welder.

We had lots of regular jobs we had to do which continually exposed you to asbestos, particularly on heating systems which is the boiler house, where the boilers were.

I mean the boilers, everything on a boiler in those days was asbestos, every gasket was asbestos.

Everything was asbestos, you know?

And you'd be scraping all these joints, gasket joints and they'd all be made of asbestos and every year, you'd strip the boilers down twice a year and you'd have to scrape all the joints off and they were all asbestos.

Other people in the area when you're doing it as well, so it's not just you getting contaminated.

Everybody else around you is getting contaminated while you're doing all this work yeah?

And the company never supplied us with any protective equipment because it was in those days, health and safety didn't mean anything.

I don't think I ever wore a dust mask until I was about thirty because companies just didn't supply this sort of equipment because it was money, and that was it.

I guessed it was mesothelioma.

I've always known that it could happen because of the asbestos I've worked with.

My oncologist about four or five weeks ago, he said to me, he said, I was just about to have some chemotherapy and he took me up to his office.

He said, we're not going to do the chemo today.

I went, right ho.

So he said to me, he said, also he said, I'd like to tell you, I don't think you're going to make Christmas.

I said, sorry?

He said, I don't think you're going to make Christmas.

Oh Grandad, has the cancer gone?

And we said, no, no, not yet.

Well does that mean Grandad's going to die?

And say, no, no, no.

Grandad won't die.

Grandads don't die.

And it's that sort of thing where you're thinking, oh, you know, what can you say?

All I was trained to do was a job.

I was never trained to do with anything health and safety what so ever.

It was purely the job.

I'm not even sure the guys teaching me were aware of any risks.

If anyone had been?

I don't think even they were aware of risks because they were in the same environment that I was in.

We were always going out, always going on holiday.

International holidays, went to Mexico, India, Africa and we had a few more planned which is Vietnam, we both wanted to go to Vietnam but whether it will actually happen is another thing.

When I was an apprentice I worked in this canteen, we were, the pipe fitters were doing an awful lot of work in there and I remember the tea ladies used to make all the rolls in there and I went up there and I was knocking off asbestos and all the tea ladies were working in there, and I had about twenty tea ladies in there and there am I, banging away with hammer and chisel knocking all of this asbestos off.

And they're making rolls.

And all this dust and all these women.

When you realise what you may have done to other people, it's so sad.

I just think of him, am I going to work tomorrow or is Chris going to say to me, do you have to go in?

And that's how I take every day.

I take every day because of Chris, how he's feeling and then I decide what I'm going to do.

And your brain is just so tired, mentally it's unbelievable and everyone says to me, how are you doing?

How are you doing?

You're the other half, how are you?

And I say, well fine because I'm not ill.

And that's my saying, nothing wrong with me, I'm not ill so I'm fine.

One of the big problems I find, especially now, is with the younger contractors, particularly the ones who are at little firms, the one man band type thing, I don't think they'd know asbestos, as I say, if it hit them in the face and I think they'd just carry on working with it.

They just wouldn't know because they're not getting trained.

I think it's disgusting that there are people still being exposed to this material.

You know, if we got contractors coming in that we know are going to start drilling into columns et cetera with, they're all made aware that there could be asbestos behind it, not necessarily but there could be.

If they ever go into a building that they're unfamiliar with and they don't know that that isn't asbestos, if they come across something like that they treat it as asbestos.

They go and report it to somebody and if that person says, oh, we know about it.

It's in our register, it isn't asbestos then carry on.

We don't laugh like we used to, nothing.

And I say to everybody that's what I miss, the laughing because we feel now there's nothing to laugh about.

You may be seventeen, you may be eighteen but you're not immortal and what you do today may have terrible consequences thirty years down the road and if you want to die of a disease that's not the most pleasant disease in the world to die of, then you carry on as you are but if you want to get, if you want to live longer than that and not die of this disease then you take, you take in all the information about it that you're given and take it in seriously because the only way you can get this disease is through asbestos.

Updated 2014-08-27