Birds pecking asbestos roof led to mesothelioma death for warehouse worker

A man died from cancer after being exposed to asbestos from birds pecking at a roof where he worked for 13 years.

Anthony Jones, from Frampton on Severn in Gloucestershire  was just 57 when he died in June from mesothelioma, a lung cancer for which the only known cause is asbestos exposure.

At an inquest in Gloucester, senior coroner Katy Skerrett concluded that Mr Jones had died from an industrial disease.

The hearing was told that he had never worked with, or near, asbestos and the only known source of his exposure was dust falling on him as birds pecked away at the crumbly roof of the cash and carry where he worked between 1972 and 1985.  The coroner said:

“This was not the type of employment where you would expect to be exposed to asbestos. But I do find there is sufficient evidence that there was probable exposure so the appropriate short form conclusion is death by industrial disease.

I acknowledge that he could not recall directly how he was exposed. It seems to have been an indirect, less obvious exposure, perhaps unlikely.”

After the inquest Mr Jones’ sister, Margaret Ball, said:

“He was going in and out of the building all the time because he would load goods up for customers and wheel them out to their vehicles. All the time this dust was floating down on him and it looks as if that is the reason he got this terrible disease years later.”

A post mortem report on Mr Jones by pathologist Dr Linmarie Ludeman found he had 19,355 asbestos fibres in each gram of dry lung tissue – a level consistent with work exposure. The finding established a ‘clear occupational link,’ the doctor stated.

Mr Jones himself believed the cause was from asbestos dust from birds pecking at the roof of his workplace.  In a statement he made last December when he was diagnosed, he said:

“I remained on that site until about 1985. I cannot recall ever working with or near to asbestos myself. It is most likely my exposure would have been at the initial premises at Hempsted Bridge as I was told there was always a problem with birds pecking on the asbestos based roof.

The environment was very dirty. The premises were fairly old and it was possible the pipework was lagged with asbestos. But I am not able to confirm this. I first started to develop symptoms of my disease in or about July 2014.”