Tragedy of St Albans workers killed by exposure to asbestos

Coroner's Court.

Coroner's Court. - Credit: Archant

ASBESTOS was responsible for the death of two St Albans men, a coroner ruled on Tuesday.

James Reynolds developed pulmonary fibrosis after being exposed to the fibres, while Frederick Haver suffered from bronchopneumonia and cancer of the internal organs.

Both men, who died just over two months apart in hospital on April 6 and February 8 this year respectively, were exposed to the material while in manual labour jobs.

Herts Coroner Edward Thomas told the inquest that Mr Reynolds previously worked for a motor company, during which time he had to sort through scrap metal and fit brake pads – well known for their asbestos content.

The 93 year old, of Langley Crescent, had a bad cough and often experienced breathlessness and chest infections.

He was admitted to hospital in March this year where signs of heart failure were detected along with lung problems.

Because of his lung condition he was given 100 per cent oxygen but was unable to maintain adequate oxygen levels and died at Watford General Hospital.

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Initially there were concerns Mr Reynolds had emphysema and there was a possibility his death was caused by ischaemic heart disease. It was only after a post-mortem examination that pulmonary fibrosis by asbestos was confirmed as the cause of death.

In contrast, Frederick Haver, of Belmont Hill, was recorded as having mesothelioma by asbestos exposure just under six months before his death.

A discharge summary noted the 88 year old had been diagnosed with the condition on September 29 last year, and that he had a history of left-sided chest pain.

Mr Thomas said that a poor prognosis meant that no further medical surgical intervention could be carried out, and palliative care was arranged shortly before Mr Haver died at the QEII hospital in Welwyn Garden City.

He added the death was expected and that a statement taken in life explained that Mr Haver went into the flooring business after he came out of the army in 1947.

The tiles he worked with contained asbestos and Mr Haver had to warm them up slightly to make them more pliable to cut.

There would also be dust and residue from the cut tiles which the former soldier would have come into contact with regularly. A post-mortem confirmed Mr Haver’s death was due to asbestos exposure.

Mr Thomas ruled both deaths as industrial disease.