Man died from asbestos exposure after making cabinets and doors at Devon company, inquest hears – Devon Live

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A 75-year-ancient man died as a result of asbestos exposure while making cabinets and fireproof doors at a company in Devon, an inquest heard.

Ronald George Cockbill was born in Birmingham but later went to North Devon, and lived in Bratton Fleming when he died at home on June 17, 2017.

Dr Jason Davies, pathologist, conducted Mr Cockbill’s autopsy and reported finding a tumour consistent with mesothelioma. At the inquest into Mr Cockbill’s death at South Molton Town Hall on Wednesday, October 11, Dr Davies gave the cause of death as malignant mesothelioma consistent with asbestos exposure.

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In a written statement provided as evidence for the inquest, Dr Jackie Tolhurst, Mr Cockbill’s general practitioner at Brannam Medical Centre, said: “In general he had no significant respiratory problems. He was never a smoker and was previously exposed to asbestos.

“When he had an x-ray, bilateral pleural plaques consistent with exposure were learned. Later he showed more signs of possible asbestos exposure and a further x-ray showed he had mesothelioma.”

In July 2015, Mr Cockbill wrote a statement which was read aloud at the inquest. He said: “I was a cabinet maker and development technician for Shapland and Petter until 1992, testing and developing materials and designs. The company started to use asbestos and I was exposed to asbestos by making doors and my colleagues making them around me.

“We were working with asbestos paper in the mid to later 1970s which were added to make doors last longer in fires. I stopped being a technician in 1992 and became a production manager and then we were no longer using asbestos in the company.”

HMRC confirmed his employment history at Shapland and Petter and then Sig Manufacturing Ltd, which took over Shapland and Petter, though Mr Cockbill’s job didn’t change.

Coroner John Tomalin summarised the evidence and gave his conclusion. He said: “After an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker at Shapland and Petter, Mr Cockbill continued to work at the company. He was of the view he had been exposed to asbestos fibres when engaged in the production of these doors.

“He was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and that has been confirmed by Dr Davies. I accept the pathologist’s conclusion for Mr Cockbill’s cause of death and I must give a conclusion of industrial decease.”

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