Members of James O’Dwyer’s family outside the HSE offices, Catherine Street where the inquest was heard PICTURE: Liam Burke
A VERDICT of occupational-related death was recorded following the inquest of a pensioner who was exposed to asbestos while working at a briquette-making factory in the midlands more than 50 years ago.
James O’Dwyer, 80, who was from Shannon died at Milford Care Centre, Castletroy, on October 29, 2018 – a number of months after he was diagnosed with cancer.
At Limerick Coroner’s Court on Tuesday, members of his family said he was exposed to asbestos while working at a Bord na Mona plant near Birr, County Offaly during the early 1960s.
He was, they said, also exposed to asbestos while working as an electrical contractor at Picadilly in London a number of years earlier.
There was no evidence before the inquest as to the level of exposure to asbestos at either location.
Mr O’Dwyer’s son-in-law, Noel Monahan, told the inquest the deceased informed him he had been exposed to asbestos while “mixing the asbestos by hand and forming it into lagging pipes”.
Medical reports, which were read into the record, confirmed Mr O’Dwyer, pictured above, had been diagnosed with Mesothelioma – an aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure – last August.
Coroner, John McNamara, said this is a “dormant killer that can manifest itself years later”. He explained an inquest was required given the possibility of his death having been related to his work.
A post-mortem, which was conducted at University Hospital Limerick, confirmed a tumor on his right lung and mestastic legions associated with the Mesothelioma were the cause of the death.
Addressing the jury of four men and two women, Mr McNamara said they had two verdicts to choose from – occupational-related death or natural causes.
He also suggested to the jurors that they consider making a recommendation to him that Mr O’Dwyer’s former employer, Bord na Mona, be contacted given the possibility that other workers may also have been exposed to aspestos in the past.
Following several minutes of deliberations, the jury returned with a verdict of occupational-related death.
The foreman added that the jury was recommending that Bord na Mona be informed of its verdict and that it be asked to confirm there is no continuing risk to the public or its employees.
Mr McNamara agreed with the jury’s findings and indicated he will make contact with the company to inform them of the outcome of the inquest.
He expressed his condolences to Mr O’Dwyer’s family and thanked the jurors for their attendance at the inquest. Insp Niall Flood also expressed condolences on behalf of An Garda Siochana.