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'Saw doctor' died from asbestos exposure

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A coroner has ruled that a Burton granddad who once worked as a 'saw doctor' repairing and servicing saws which were used to cut asbestos, died from being exposed to the dust.

The man, 83, passed away at his home in Burton on 16 March 2019.

An inquest held on the 15 May 2019 heard that the man had got an apprenticeship working as a saw doctor as a teenager. It was heard that his role would be to repair and sharpen industrial saws from various factories across the area.

Some of these saws had been used to cut asbestos and many still had dust on them when the man was given them to repair.

It was heard that the man began to feel unwell towards the end of 2018. Unfortunately, in January 2019 he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Following his diagnosis, the man received palliative care at his home.

The South Staffordshire Coroner said: "[the man] did an unusual job as a saw doctor, in which, he came into contact with asbestos dust after working with saws that had been used to cut asbestos.

"In later years, he went on to perform another role and there is no evidence of him coming into contact at any other point in his working life, or outside of work.

"I am confident that his death has occurred due to him being exposed to asbestos during his working life."

Mesothelioma is an aggressive, treatment-resistant cancerous tumour which primarily affects the pleura (lungs) and peritoneum (stomach). More than 2,600 people are diagnosed with the condition each year in the UK. Most cases that are diagnosed tend to be in people aged 60 to 80, and men tend to be more commonly affected than women.

Mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is a general term used for a group of fibrous minerals known for their thermal resistance, strength and acoustic insulation. Several types of asbestos were commonly used commercially such as blue asbestos (crocidolite), brown asbestos (amosite) and white asbestos (chrysotile).

The symptoms of mesothelioma can often take up to 40 years to develop and most commonly present as: a persistent cough, breathlessness, wheezing, chest pain, fatigue and weight loss. In cases of peritoneal mesothelioma, symptoms could include stomach pain, stomach swelling and nausea. It is most commonly diagnosed on chest xrays, CT scans and by taking biopsies.


Johnathan Steventon-Kiy, specialist industrial disease lawyer, says:

“Sadly cases of mesothelioma are common in those who worked in commercial trades such as electricians, plumbers, boiler makers, building and construction workers and any other trades in which asbestos was commonly used. It can also affect the families of those who used asbestos such as a spouse who may have washed dusty clothes/overalls. This case involved a man who had an unusual role but exemplifies how lethal asbestos can be. Further, the effects of mesothelioma are devastating and it is important that an experienced specialist asbestos disease solicitor assists the Claimant, or their estate, to ensure that the correct amount of compensation is received. The specialist solicitors in Biscoes Industrial Disease team have many years of experience pursuing these sorts of cases.”

Contact our specialist personal injury, medical negligence and industrial disease solicitors on 0800 413 463 or visit for more information. You can also follow us on twitter using the handle @biscoesmedneg

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.