More than 40 Sheffield steel workers are to take High Court action after claiming they were subjected to harmful diseases in coke plants.
The claims against British Steel state that workers developed a number of life-limiting respiratory diseases and go as far back as the 1940s.
Specialist lawyers representing the steel workers revealed that they have had their application for a Group Litigation Order made against British Steel and its predecessors and successors in title approved by the High Court.
Law firms Hugh James and Irwin Mitchell were contacted by 325 former workers from sites in Sheffield, Wales, Scotland, the North East and Derbyshire.
Roger Maddocks, a partner and expert industrial illness lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: "These workers through no fault of their own have developed serious, and in some cases fatal, respiratory illnesses and lung cancers causing them unnecessary pain and suffering when they should be enjoying their later life with their families. Nothing can turn back the clock but this legal action will hopefully provide them with the help, support and treatments needed to make dealing with their illness more comfortable."
A British Steel spokesman said: "We are aware of these claims, which arise from alleged exposure to dust and fumes during the course of employment, mainly between the 1950s and 1980s, at various coke ovens throughout England, Wales and Scotland.
"As legal proceedings are ongoing, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time."
The law firms are now awaiting confirmation of a hearing date. A deadline will then be set for those who have been affected to join the group action.