Just two days’ asbestos exposure ‘enough to kill South Staffordshire man’

In some of the stories that our asbestos removal contractors see in the news detailing tragic victims of exposure to the famously lethal substance, there is shocking information about just how short a time period the sufferer spent in contact with the fibres that ultimately killed them.

Such has been the case with another article we have seen in the news lately – that concerning Michael Davies, a resident of the South Staffordshire village of Pattingham, who died on 18th September this year.

A verdict of industrial disease

As reported by the Express & Star, Michael Davies had assisted with the removal of roofing material containing the substance in 1978. According to an inquest, the cause of the 60-year-old former social care manager’s death was mesothelioma, the cancer that is heavily associated with asbestos exposure.

Officer Andrew Heathcote read out a statement from Mr Davies’ family at Cannock Coroners Court.

He said: “After graduating in 1978 in Swansea, Mr Davies had no permanent employment and it appears he survived by doing odd jobs. He remembered his friend Tony returning from the Job Centre to say there was a job clearing asbestos in a factory in Swansea.

“He thought the opportunity was too good to turn down and signed up. But after just two days dismantling roofs, he gave it up.”

Mr Davies reported this asbestos exposure in July this year. However, as Mr Heathcote outlined: “The initial exposure happens decades before symptoms start to show.”

“A relatively young age to die”

Mr Andrew Haigh, South Staffordshire Coroner, said: “I have been told Michael was only 60 when he died, which is a relatively young age to die. He was an active man, had a responsible job in social services and was part of the community in Pattingham.”

The coroner added that Mr Davies had spent “a couple of days” removing asbestos in a job following his graduation in Swansea in the late 1970s.

“There is no doubt that Mr Davies died as a result of mesothelioma and no doubt that this was a result from exposure to asbestos.”

He said that while there was less certainty about when the exposure occurred, Mr Davies’ time working in Swansea was the only instance of contact with asbestos of which he had been told.

“Therefore, on the balance of probabilities, I conclude Mr Davies died of industrial disease.”

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Widow seeks answers after asbestos-related death of ex-bingo hall manager husband

While it is well-known that those who worked in the construction sector many decades ago can be at risk of developing asbestos-related disease as a result of having come into contact with the lethal substance during their working lives, not all cases are this typical. This has been shown by one sad story recently published by the Newcastle-based Evening Chronicle newspaper.

Overseeing renovations may have exposed tragic husband to asbestos

Bob Elliot – originally from Kimblesworth in County Durham – was a senior manager for leading bingo hall operator Rank, which was responsible for hundreds of bingo halls across the country in the 1970s and ‘80s. Only after his death last year was it found that he had been suffering from mesothelioma, a cancer of the lung lining that is strongly associated with asbestos exposure.

It is thought that he would have breathed in the potentially fatal substance while overseeing renovations of Rank premises around his native North East of England, but his family is now appealing for more information on exactly where this may have occurred.

While Bob spent time around the UK and the United States, he was also active in his home region for many years. He was based in Sunderland, but helped to oversee the transformation of old cinemas into bingo halls in such towns and cities as Gateshead and Leeds.

“We always said no, as that wasn’t his line of work”

Bob, a prostate cancer survivor, sadly died in March last year, aged 79. His wife Elizabeth, to whom he was married for 50 years, said the couple had no idea he could have been exposed to asbestos.

She commented: “When Bob had prostate cancer in 1999, he made such a great recovery, he had more energy than me. But then in late 2015, we could tell something wasn’t right – we worried that the prostate cancer had come back, but really we knew it was something different as the symptoms were different.

“The doctors kept asking about whether Bob could have come into contact with asbestos, but we always said no, as that wasn’t his line of work. Just before he died, one doctor said to us it could be mesothelioma, but as Bob didn’t work with asbestos, we just didn’t think it was possible. Only once the post-mortem confirmed it did we actually believe it, but of course it was a huge shock.”

She appealed for her husband’s ex-colleagues or anyone involved in the conversion of the bingo halls to provide information that “would help us go some way to finding out why we lost Bob in the manner we did.”

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