Major Award for UK Grass-roots Campaigner
On November 8, 2003, Alan Dalton, received the Robert Tressell Award for services to “working people and in recognition of his fight for victims of asbestos, his struggle for a worldwide ban on asbestos and his continuing fight on environmental issues.”1 The award, presented to Alan at his North London home by Mick Holder from the London Hazards Centre, was bestowed by the Construction Safety Campaign which was holding its annual general meeting in Liverpool on the same day; ill-health prevented Alan from making the journey to Liverpool.
|Alan Dalton with the Tressell Award.|
As an environmentalist, Alan became aware of the damage being done by hazardous occupational exposure to asbestos in the 1970s. In 1979, he wrote the book Asbestos Killer Dust - A Worker/Community Guide, which remains a damning indictment of the negligent behaviour of UK asbestos producers and users; the publication of this book resulted in a lawsuit over comments about the pro-industry views and failure as a Factory Inspector to adequately police asbestos manufacturing operations of Dr. Robert Murray, the TUC’s former medical adviser. The court case was one of many instances where Alan put his career and personal life on the line; since then Alan has assisted many workers who have been diagnosed with asbestos-related disease. He has been a prominent presence at asbestos demonstrations over the years and a highly vocal critic of lenient fines for infringements of asbestos health and safety laws. On September 29, 2003, he wrote to The Guardian:
“there are still millions of tonnes of asbestos in our schools, housing estates and workplaces. This must be removed and disposed of safely - with precautions like those you take for radiation contamination… The fines for dangerous removal and disposal are still, commonly, in the thousands of pounds range - no deterrent to the removal cowboys.”
November 10, 2003
1 Robert Tressell was the pen name of Robert Noonan, the Irish painter and decorator who published the seminal book The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist, in 1912.