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Asbestos causes death of laboratory worker

A 79 year old man died of asbestosis caused by exposure to asbestos at work in his early twenties, an inquest has found.

The man spent between six and eight months working as a research assistant for British Oxygen in the 1960s. His job regularly involved tests carried out on materials containing asbestos in an industrial laboratory.

In a statement made by the man prior to his death he said: “I always used asbestos. It came in a powdered form. There wasn’t any safety equipment. I wasn’t warned of the dangers of asbestos and I wasn’t trained on how to use it. Had I known the dangers I would have left earlier."

The man also described how he often kept the same clothes he wore underneath his white laboratory coat on once he got home and his employer never provided him with a mask whilst he handled the materials.

Following his diagnosis of asbestosis, he developed several other conditions and his health gradually worsened. He began to deteriorate around six months prior to his death, becoming house bound and bed bound. He was reliant on oxygen and started receiving palliative care.

The man also contracted bronchopneumonia and he died comfortably at his home in Hove surrounded by his family and hospice staff.

The assistant coroner said the dangers of asbestos did not really emerge until the 1980s when safety measures began to be put in place. She recorded a conclusion of death caused by industrial disease.

Asbestosis is a scarring of the lungs caused by the inhalation of significant amounts of asbestos fibres. It is a slow growth of fibrous tissue in or around the air sacs of the lungs and has an appearance similar to a spider’s web. The effect of this fibrous growth is that it strangles the lung. When symptomatic, a sufferer of asbestosis may have shortness of breath, a cough and/or chest pain.

Melanie Lidstone-Land, Head of Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury and Senior Associate with Swain & Co Solicitors says,

“Asbestosis can be an incredibly debilitating illness that progressively gets worse over time. This can often lead sufferers to be rendered housebound requiring nursing care and the need for additional oxygen. Their quality of life is seriously affected as a result”.

Melanie Lidstone-Land and the Industrial Disease team at Swain & Co Solicitors regularly win compensation for their clients who suffer from industrial diseases, including asbestos related illnesses. If you, a family member or a friend suffer from an industrial disease contact our team today on 02392 483 322. 

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