Steel worker diagnosed with two asbestos diseases

A RETIRED steel worker has urged former tradesmen and their families to flag
asbestos concerns to their doctor after he was diagnosed with TWO asbestos-related
Iain MacKenzie, 85, now suffers from pleural plaques and pleural thickening after
working with asbestos roofing sheets in the 1960s.
The great-grandfather from Partick, Glasgow – who used to bag Munros and cycle
every day – believed he was fit and healthy his whole life.
But two years ago he learned he had been poisoned by the deadly substance after he
started getting breathless.
Iain hard at work.
Iain believes thousands more are affected and called on Scots to raise concerns with
NHS medics and charities like Clydebank Asbestos Group before it’s too late.
He said: “Doctors don’t routinely ask if asbestos was present in your past – which is
strange in itself given Glasgow’s working heritage – so you need to flag it up if they
“Even family members could be affected because it would be common for tradesmen
to come home with asbestos on their clothes.
“I still feel lucky as there’s worse conditions to be diagnosed with but there must be
hundreds, if not thousands, more unknowingly suffering worse conditions than me.
“You need to act now as these steps are also for your family too as it’s them who care
for you and pick up the pieces.”
After 10 years as an able seaman in the Merchant Navy, Iain worked with
construction firm John Young as a rigger erector in the 1960s.

One of his duties involved removing asbestos roof sheets – or ‘lagging’ – from a
warehouse on South Street in Glasgow city centre.

But as the firm never supplied Iain with safety gloves, breathing masks or boiler suits
the deadly asbestos fibres entered his lungs and skin.
He said: “At that time we just got on with the work. The only thing our bosses gave us
was a wage.

“I had no idea anything bad happened to me until 2017.”

Two years ago worried wife Helen MacKenzie, 67, grew concerned when her
husband became breathless while simply putting on his socks.

The retired shop worker said: “I’d never seen Iain like that before – it was so
“Iain’s not a moaner. He just gets on with things.

“But I was concerned something more serious was going on so we just had to go to
the doctor.”
Iain and his wife Helen.

The local GP referred Iain to an asthma specialist at Gartnavel Hospital but the
specialist raised concerns and sent him to a respiratory expert at the Queen Elizabeth
University Hospital.

After undergoing tests at the QEUH – including a thoracoscopy where medics
examine the lungs with a camera – it was confirmed the retired tradesman had pleural
plaques and pleural thickening.

Iain – who has four kids, five grandkids and one great-grandchild – said: “I was
shocked by the diagnosis because it’s something you think happens to other people – I
know about a dozen men who contracted an asbestos-related illness.

“Over the last few years I’ve been diagnosed with various chest infections or
pneumonia and I wonder if things would be different now if the doctor had simply
spoken to me about asbestos.

“But I’m glad we know about it now because it means me and my family can get the
medical, social and legal support we need.”