Retired Lytham joiner's death from tumour linked to his work with asbestos, coroner finds

A retired joiner's terminal cancer was – 'on balance of probability' - linked to the years he spent working directly with deadly asbestos, an inquest found.
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David Firth, of Commonside, Ansdell in Lytham St Annes, was admitted to Blackpool Victoria Hospital with shortage of breath and severe pain earlier this year, and was found to have an extensive tumour within his chest wall.

After he was transferred to Trinity Hospice on April 5 for end of life care, he was moved the Hamptons Care Centre on Heyhouses Lane, Lytham, on May 5 and died there on July 10, aged 81.

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Blackpool Coroner's Court heard that Mr Firth had spent many years in the construction industry, from 1956 until 2010.

Asbestos link in inquest caseAsbestos link in inquest case
Asbestos link in inquest case

Working as a joiner at wood mills and later for construction companies in the 1950s and 60s, Bradford-born Mr Firth would break up asbestos as part of his work.

Louise Rae, assistant coroner for Blackpool and Fylde, said information received from Mr Firth's son Darren stated that while his father carried out this work earlier in his career, there were no health and safety provisions in place for workers dealing with asbestos.

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Explainer: What is asbestos and what are the risks?

Air-borne fibres from the industrial material, commonly used in construction during much of the 20th century before it was fully banned in 1999, have been named as a primary cause of certain cancers.

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Pathologist Dariusz Golka told the hearing that while at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Mr Firth was found to have an extensive, mesothelioma tumour within his chest wall, in addition to multiple, smaller metastatic deposits.

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He said: “Due to the rapid progress of this sort of tumour, most patients would die some 12 to 18 months after diagnosis.

“In a small proportion there is no specific known cause but in most cases there have been exposure to asbestos.”

Summing up in her conclusion, Ms Rae said: “On the balance of probabilities, the cause of death was disseminated mesothelioma, caused by exposure to asbestos.”

She recorded a verdict of 'Industrial Disease'.

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