Tributes to safety pioneer

Simon Pickvance
Simon Pickvance

A MEMORIAL service was held on Tuesday for a Sheffield man who fought strenuously for workers’ safety.

It was a celebration of the life of Simon Pickvance, who, for decades, was at the centre of efforts to improve health and safety for workers in Britain and abroad.

He died at the age of 63 two years after contracting an industrial disease himself - the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma.

Colleagues praised his commitment to exposing the links between hazardous exposures and occupational diseases. He was described as a man of honour, integrity and keen intelligence, who was much admired.

Simon, who lived in Crookesmoor, studied zoology at Cambridge University before moving to Sheffield in 1974.

Despite being driven by a desire to put his education and scientific training to use, he began labouring as a builder, and it was during this time he was exposed to asbestos .

After witnessing health and safety issues at first hand, he helped to found the Sheffield Occupational Advisory Service, going on to help thousands of people with compensation claims, including miners and steelworkers who suffered hearing loss.

Simon was forced to retire following his diagnosis, but continued his research, examining links between the region’s steelworks and bladder cancer.

His son Sol, aged 24, said: “He never said it was ironic he ended up getting a disease which was so central to the work he did in his campaigning, he just said it was cruel – it is a great cruelty when workers are made to work in an unsafe environment.”

Simon also leaves wife Mandy and children Ella, 23, and Benny, 20. The service was at Crookes Social Club.