Asbestos was like "capital punishment" for workers, says coroner

THE inquest into the death of a former Crewe Works employee has revealed the horrifying truth about asbestos exposure, before its dangers were recognised.

William Martin, the late husband of Crewe Clr Peggy Martin, worked at the railway as a fitter and turner between 1956 and 1988. He was taken on as an apprentice, following in the footsteps of his brother and father.

He died on the August 4, 2011, aged 70, after being diagnosed with lung disease. But at his inquest on Friday, the coroner heard how workers were exposed to the dangerous fibres, linked to a number of diseases, on a daily basis.

In a ‘life statement’ read out in court, William talked about workers’ attitudes towards asbestos and how often they were exposed to it.

It read: “Asbestos was in the atmosphere all the time. You couldn’t help but inhale it.

“You could see it the dust particles in the rays of sunlight.

“Some of the asbestos would still be clinging to the boilers. It would be on my hands. But it was a job I enjoyed.

“I do recall having blue asbestos on my sandwich – it was everywhere. At the end of the day my overalls would be covered thick with asbestos dust. We would not be provided with any masks.”

In 1988 William took redundancy and later went on to work as a steward at Coppenhall WMC.

Dr Janet Napier, deputy coroner for Cheshire described the exposure to asbestos was like “capital punishment for being a hard worker”.

She said his death was caused by a combination of natural and industrial diseases. His post mortem revealed asbestos had contributed to his lung disease.

Clr Peggy Martin said: “Bill loved his work and said he would do it all again if he could, even knowing what he knew. He said it was a great community to work for.”

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