An inquest into the death of a former BT Building Contract Manager has heard that the deceased made a BT engineer mesothelioma claim for compensation shortly before he died.
At the inquest, Assistant Deputy Coroner Dr Peter Harrowing was told that Derek Butler (74) from Weston in Somerset – a former BT draughtsman and Building Contract Manager – had been diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer earlier this year, an industrial disease often caused by exposure to asbestos dust and fibres.
Dr Harrowing heard from Dr Justin Pepperell – Derek´s consultant physician – who confirmed that Derek had died from malignant mesothelioma, and was also read a statement composed by Derek shortly before his death, in which Derek explained the reasons why he believed he had contracted the deadly cancer.
The statement revealed that Derek had worked for British Telecommunications from 1967 as a draughtsman and, from 1980 until his retirement in 1996, as a Building Contract Manger. Although many of Derek´s responsibilities revolved around planning the remodelling of buildings which were converting from mechanical telephone systems to electric telephone networks, he was often called upon to be present at building sites to supervise the work.
It was while at these building sites that Derek was exposed to asbestos coated telephone wires which – as the remodelling was in progress – released a significant amount of asbestos fibres and dust into the atmosphere. According to Derek´s statement the protection supplied by BT against exposure to asbestos consisted of several plastic sheets which failed to protect people working at the site.
Derek had commenced a BT engineer mesothelioma claim for compensation shortly before his death and speaking at the conclusion of the inquest Dr Peter Harrowing said: “Mr Butler did not work directly with asbestos but when working with BT and working with buildings which were remodelled it was likely he was exposed to asbestos during that work. I accept the medical cause of death as being one due to industrial disease.”