Gloucester electrician died from asbestos exposure, inquest hears

Working at the Walls Ice Cream factory and in the Gloucester dry docks during the 1970s caused the death of an electrician from Wotton-under-Edge 40 years later, an inquest heard today.

Malcolm Smith died aged just 66 this year from malignant mesothelioma – a lung cancer for which the only known cause is asbestos exposure.

Although, unusually, no asbestos fibres were found in his lungs at post mortem this was probably because he had digested them at a faster rate than most, said the Gloucestershire senior coroner Katy Skerrett.

She recorded a conclusion that Mr Smith died from industrial disease.

In a statement Mr Smith made after being diagnosed with the terminal cancer in January 2013 he said he started work as an apprentice electrician in 1966 and at the time asbestos was ‘ubiquitous’ on building sites.

He worked at the Walls Ice Cream factory in Gloucester installing electrical conduits where the room was thick with asbestos dust, he stated.

In 1972 he worked on ships being refurbished in the dry dock and again the air would be full of asbestos dust below decks, he said.

“In the mid 70s asbestos was phased out of most buildings but by then I had been severely exposed.”

He recalled he had also worked at one time for an electrical company where there was some asbestos lagging and sheets of the material were being cut.

Mr Smith said he suddenly became breathless in October 2012 and was referred for medical tests. On New Year’s Eve he underwent a biopsy and in January 2013 he was diagnosed with mesothelioma.

His condition then slowly deteriorated until his death.