A widow has been advised to seek compensation following the death of her husband from an industrial-related illness.
At an inquest last week, Coroner Simon Nelson told Sheila Bowles she should consider bringing legal action against her husband’s former employers after he died as a result of exposure to asbestos.
Retired labourer, Frank Bowles, 64, died in hospital on 30 December 2006 from bronchial pneumonia. He had originally been diagnosed with lung cancer in February 2006 but it was later discovered he had malignant mesothelioma – an asbestos related cancer.Mr Nelson said: “The past 12 months of your husband’s life must have been unbearable for your family and particularly for your husband.
“What always strikes me with cases of this nature is how quickly the illness strikes after having been dormant for 20, 30 or 40 years.”
The inquest heard how Mr Bowles, a father of two, had worked in various factories, mills and building sites throughout his life but had never been provided with face masks or protective clothing.
He retired around 15 years ago but began to feel unwell in 2004 when he became breathless, tired and lost weight.
He was referred to hospital by his GP where he was diagnosed with having lung cancer and underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy at Christie Hospital. But his condition deteriorated and on 30 December he died at the Royal Oldham Hospital.
Mrs Bowles, who lived with her husband on Boarshaw Road, said: “He was very outgoing, outspoken and loved the outdoor life.”
Since retiring Mr Bowles had enjoyed playing golf. The inquest heard he had good health until 2004 when he became ill and was then asked if he had ever been exposed to asbestos.
Mr Nelson said he had contacted HM Customs and Revenues for details of Mr Bowles previous employers and supplied a copy of this list to the Greater Manchester Asbestos Support Group. The group cross referenced these employers with a database of victims of asbestos exposure.
This revealed that a number of sufferers had contracted asbestos-related illnesses while working for some of the same employers as Mr Bowles. These included British Rail, Vitafoam and Wimpy where Mrs Bowles confirmed her husband had previously worked.
Mr Nelson said: “It is well known that malignant mesothelioma can occur naturally and might affect possibly 10 per cent of the population who would not have exposure to asbestos.
“I am satisfied that, more likely than not, the source or cause of Mr Bowles mesothelioma was by reason of his exposure to asbestos whilst in work. Although I cannot identify which period of work that that disease would have been contracted.”
He returned a verdict that Mr Bowles had died by reason of industrial disease.