Apprentices had snowball fights with asbestos - says Pontlliw man who died from asbestosis
POWER station workers used to have "snowball" fights with asbestos, unaware of the potentially lethal effect.
This is what Robert Maurice Jones had to say, prior to his death from asbestosis, a Swansea inquest heard.
Mr Jones, of Pontlliw, worked as a mechanical fitter and engineer at power plants in South Wales and further afield between 1961 and 1972 while employed by the former Central Electricity Generating Board.
The family man died at Singleton Hospital on April 8 this year of bronchopneumonia, mesothelioma and asbestosis.
Swansea coroner Philip Rogers read out evidence that Mr Jones, 74, had given to solicitors on September 4 last year in connection with a civil litigation matter.
Mr Rogers said Mr Jones left school in 1953 and worked in two collieries before joining the electricity board in 1961.
From that point on, Mr Jones said he was exposed to asbestos dust and fibre on a daily basis.
He worked on hot machinery that had been "heavily lagged" with asbestos.
"I knocked off the existing lags with a hammer, and it would break away into clouds of fine dust," he said.
"It was a normal daily occurrence. It was impossible to avoid it. I would then arrange for a lagger to re-lag (the machinery) with asbestos.
"The asbestos powder was emptied into a bucket with water. That resulted in clouds of asbestos. As it dried off, more dust was released into the environment."
Asbestos dust would also drift down from the floors above, he said, adding that nobody wore masks.
"I saw apprentices throwing asbestos in 'snowball' fights in places in which I worked in the 1960s," said Mr Jones.
"It was thought to be fun, and they were entirely oblivious to the dangers they were placing themselves and others in."
According to Mr Jones, the dangers of asbestos were not known until the 1960s. In 1971 orders were given to remove asbestos from power stations.
Recording a verdict of death by industrial disease, Mr Rogers said: "There is clear evidence that he was exposed to asbestos for about 11 years at Central Electricity Generating Board power stations."