Coke oven workers compensation

The production of coke fuel was once a major part of UK industry, with many works operating across the country.  Coke fuel workers were exposed to numerous toxic by-products which included dust, tar, oils and gases during production.  Exposure to these toxic substances can cause a range of  serious, and life threatening respiratory and skin illnesses. 

Following a landmark case fought by our specialist team of industrial disease solicitors, former coke oven workers and their families can now claim compensation for respiratory disease and lung cancer cause by working with the toxic byproducts of coke fuel production. Hugh James was appointed as lead solicitor in a group action brought by hundreds of former workers and their families who worked at the Phurnacite plant in South Wales. The successful outcome of this case has had implications for former patent fuel plant workers, National Smokeless Fuels and British Steel coke oven workers, who may now be able to claim coke oven worker compensation.

How is coke fuel hazardous?

It has now been proven that exposure to toxic by-products produced during the coking process, when ingested, can cause respiratory diseases which include:

  • lung cancer
  • emphysema
  • chronic bronchitis
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • chronic obstructive airways disease (COAD).

Cases of skin cancer and exacerbation of asthma have also been identified.

Bruce and Eddie’s story

Coke fuel plants and steel works across the UK

Coke fuel was produced in various locations across the UK.  We can help you investigate a coke oven worker compensation claim if you or a deceased family member was employed as a coke oven worker. We are investigating the claims of men who worked at coking plants across England and Wales whose employers included:

  • British Coal Corporation / National Coal Board / National Smokeless Fuels
  • British Steel / Corus / Tata

If you or a family member worked as a coke oven worker and now suffer with respiratory disease, lung cancer or skin cancer, please contact us to discuss further.

Coke oven claims against British Coal (and associated companies)

An application for a group litigation order in respect of British Coal coke oven workers was approved by the High Court in July 2015. The High Court appointed Hugh James as one of the lead solicitors in the group action for conditions associated with employment at coke works operated by British Coal. These conditions include:

  • emphysema;
  • chronic bronchitis;
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD);
  • chronic obstructive airways disease (COAD);
  • temporary exacerbation of asthma
  • lung cancer
  • squamous cell skin cancer

A group litigation order enables a group of cases to be considered on the basis of a selection of test cases, the judgments in which then act as a guide in the resolution of other cases within the group.


The deadline to British Coal has now passed.

Coke oven claims against other employers

Hugh James is also investigating claims for men who were employed on coke ovens operated by British Steel (and its associated companies).

If you or a deceased family member were employed by British Steel or any other employer as a coke oven worker, and think that you may have been affected, please contact Hugh James as soon as possible. We can then assess the merits of any potential claim which you may have.

Kathryn Singh


Department telephone: 029 2078 5691

James Gibson


Department telephone: 029 2078 5691

Claiming compensation for coke oven workers

Hugh James Solicitors are experts in this field and our specialist solicitors can help you and your family pursue a no win, no fee personal injury compensation claim for respiratory disease, or a resulting death, caused by devastating exposure to coke fuel gases and dust.  Initial advice is free, with no obligation to pursue your coke oven worker claim.

We have offices in Cardiff and London and can represent clients in coke worker claims throughout England and Wales.

Our experience

Our disease litigation team has been assisting industrial workers claim compensation for illnesses caused at work for over 25 years.  Our experience and knowledge has led to millions of pounds in compensation being awarded to sick and injured workers.

As lead solicitors in the landmark Phurnacite Workers Group Litigation, Kathryn Singh Gareth Morgan our team is experienced and knowledgeable in this area of industry and personal injury compensation.

We have offices in Cardiff and London and can represent clients in coke worker claims throughout England and Wales. We can help you pursue a no win, no fee personal injury compensation claim.  Initial advice is free, with no obligation to pursue your claim.

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB)

If you are suffering from lung cancer as a result of your work as a coke oven worker, in addition to a possible claim for compensation, you may also be able to claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB).

IIDB is an award that is paid to those who suffer an accident or disease due to their employment.

In order to apply for IIDB you would need to complete the required DWP paperwork. You can obtain this paperwork on the DWP website ( Alternatively, Hugh James would be happy to guide you through this process in conjunction with your claim for compensation.

In order to qualify for IIDB we will need to prove that your employment on the coke ovens is the cause of your poor respiratory health.  It is likely you will be assessed by a doctor appointed by DWP who will provide advice to DWP on the cause of your respiratory illness.

To discuss the process of making a claim and to discuss the possible amount of benefit that may be available to you please contact us on 0800 652 5524 to discuss this further.

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