01 June 2005


Power supply linesman died after asbestos exposure

01/06/2005 - 18:52:45

A father-of-three, who worked with the Electricity Supply Board for over 30-years, died from exposure to asbestos, an inquest heard tonight.

Michael Clohessy, 53, from Killcross Lawns, Sandyford in Dublin had worked for the State-owned electricity company as a linesman for 33-years prior to his death on December 6, 2003.

His widow, Teresa, told the Dublin City Coroner’s Court: “He did say to the ESB he couldn’t breathe after cutting copper pipes.

“He was with the ESB his whole working life.”

The family’s solicitor, Peter Duff, said the ESB was Mr Clohessy’s prime employer during his entire lifetime.

The court heard that Mr Clohessy, had died from a mesothelioma tumour in the lungs, which in 90 to 95% of cases is associated with exposure to asbestos.

Mr Clohessy complained of shortness of breath in 2001 and was originally treated in several hospitals, including chemotherapy treatment, for a regular form of lung cancer.

He was transferred to Our Lady’s Hospice in Harold’s Cross in March, 2002, where he remained until his death in December, 2003.

Mr Duff said: “Mr Clohessy confounded doctors. One of the hallmarks of this disease is it is usually very virulent and can strike a person down within two months.”

The coroner Dr Brian Farrell said that upon Mr Clohessy’s death a biopsy revealed an unusual mesothelioma tumour rather than ordinary lung cancer.

Dr Farrell said: “When he died a report to our office indicated exposure to asbestos during his occupational lifetime.”

In an autopsy report, the State Pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy, said she found encrusted fragments in the lungs and queried whether it may have been asbestos fibres.

Dr Louise Burke of Cork University Hospital also confirmed it was a mesothelioma tumour, which was often associated with exposure to asbestos.

The court heard that a mesothelioma tumour can result from exposure to asbestos some 20 to 40-years previously.

Dr Farrell said: “He had the potential of exposure during his work.”

He added: “It is sometimes difficult to get accurate details of exposure as it is so long ago.”

The jury passed a verdict of death caused by occupational disease, stating that on the balance of probabilities the mesothelioma was related to asbestos exposure.

The verdict stated Mr Clohessy was employed as a linesman with the ESB during his entire working life.

Dr Farrell said the Coroner’s Court and the Health and Safety Authority, which was represented in court by Dr Thomas Donnelly, feel potential occupational deaths must be fully explored.

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