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Verdict of death by industrial disease

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: November 08, 2012

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A BURTON man’s death was caused by two decades spent working in a coal mine, an inquest has heard.

Wayne Smith, of Curtis Court, Horninglow, died at Burton’s Queen’s Hospital at the age of 58, after succumbing to a lung disease that had developed in the years leading up to his death and left him requiring oxygen at home.

The inquest into his death, held at Burton Town Hall, heard how Mr Smith had worked 12-hour shifts down a Nottinghamshire mine for 21 years until he was in his mid 30s.

Despite having left the mine more than 20 years ago, the damage had already been done.

Mr Smith’s family reported that he had lived with a chesty cough for a number of years, and required a constant supply of oxygen.

Shortly before his death his condition deteriorated further and he was taken into hospital.

Consultant pathologist Peter Acland admitted that the fact Mr Smith was a smoker may have also played a part in his death, but exposure to coal dust was the overwhelming factor.

Due to this fact South Staffordshire coroner Andrew Haigh was unable to declare Mr Smith’s death as natural, recording a death by industrial disease.

He said: “Mr Smith worked for what is a significant period of approximately 21 years in a coal mine in an underground capacity.

“In his final years he developed problems with his lungs and had been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease for some considerable time, which is a destructive condition.

“Apart from his lungs, generally Mr Smith was in quite good order — but this was a severe lung disease.

He had required oxygen at home for some time.

“Yes, smoking was a factor, but coal dust was also a factor and I’m sorry it caught up with him in his final months.”

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