An asbestos death of a 93-year-old “keeper of the books” has given a stark warning of the dangers of asbestos exposure.

The Asbestos case

Dr Dennis Shaw worked at the Oxford Bodleian library when major refurbishment and underground building work was taking place in the early 1970’s.  During this work he was exposed to asbestos which caused him to suffer the asbestos cancer, mesothelioma. This sadly led to his death..

Dr Shaw was the keeper of scientific books at the library from 1976 until he retired in 1991.  Before that time he had worked at the library. He had been a regular user as an academic in physics and science at Oxford University.

In addition Dr Shaw spent some of his career supervising the renovation work. This included an acre long underground extension to the Radcliffe science section of the library.

Sadly Dr Shaw was diagnosed with asbestos related mesothelioma in December 2016. He died due to this condition at the age of 93. He provided a detailed statement setting out his work before he died.

The assistant Coroner for Oxford recorded his death due to mesothelioma.

The story is here

asbestos death

Even low level or short term asbestos exposure can cause death

Asbestos Death Case comment

Howard Bonnett, Director Corries asbestos team commented

“This is yet another sad case of the awful asbestos legacy.  Dr Shaw had reached the age of 93. He had worked in a profession where asbestos exposure would not have crossed his mind.  However his memory was good and he set out details of when he was exposed to asbestos.  I am sure this will help his family and lawyers deal with any potential claim for compensation.

Recent asbestos statistics show there is no drop in the number of people affected or dying due to asbestos exposure.  There are two stark reminders which come out of this:

  1. Even those with very light or moderate exposure to asbestos can go on to develop asbestos disease
  2. Even those exposed who live to their 90’s can go on to develop asbestos disease. 

At 93 Dr Shaw assumed that he would see his days out without being affected by asbestos disease. Sadly, like many before and to come – asbestos has no sell by date.”

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