Asbestos linked to early death of ship engineer
AN engineer who was exposed to asbestos while working at a shipbuilding yard died from industrial disease. Former Rolls-Royce worker Harry Rigby recalled blowing asbestos dust from his overalls while working in the 1950s at Cammell Laird, Birkenhead, before he moved to Derby.
In a statement read out at Derby and South Derbyshire Coroner’s Court, he recalled seeing blue, white and brown asbestos in the air while he worked close to asbestos-lagged pipes. Mr Rigby, of Breaston, started to feel breathless in early 2008, struggling to tend to his garden and do odd jobs around the house.
He was diagnosed with pleural plaques – a form of asbestosis – in October 2008 and died at the Royal Derby Hospital, aged 71, last month.
In 2008, as part of a successful compensation claim before his death, Mr Rigby, of Holly Avenue, was examined by respiratory physician Dr David Baldwin.
In it he said: “Over the last 12 months my breathing has become gradually worse. I am now unable to walk 100 yards without having to stop and I have to rest after climbing one flight of steps.
“I worked from 1955 to 1960 as an apprentice engineer at Cammell Laird. The pipes were lagged in asbestos and I would see the blue, white and brown dust. I would use the air lines to blow the dust off me and my overalls.”
Mr Rigby carried on working at Cammell Laird, away from the pipework, until 1975 when he moved to Derby and took up a role as an electrical design engineer at Rolls-Royce. He still worked on ships, but said any exposure to asbestos would have been “minimal.”
Speaking in court, his widow, Marjorie, said: “Before Harry fell ill, we never had to pay anyone to do any jobs because he was just a jack of all trades.”
Dr Ivan Robinson, the pathologist who carried out Mr Rigby’s post-mortem examination, said asbestos fibres in his lungs made them more than twice the weight of normal, healthy lungs.
He gave the cause of death as pulmonary fibrosis. He said: “Mr Rigby’s heart failed because it was trying to pump blood around the diseased lungs.”
Paul McCandless, assistant deputy coroner, returned a verdict that Mr Rigby died as a result of industrial disease. He said: “It is very clear that he developed asbestosis which was responsible in shortening his life.”
The UKAS Accredited Asbestos Inspection Bodies blog is an information portal developed by the UKAS Accredited Asbestos Inspection Firms listed on this site. For more information about asbestos surveys, subscribe to our RSS newsfeed here. Alternatively, you can subscribe to AIB Blog by Email or follow us on Twitter @UKAS_AIB