Failures contribute to worker trench death

Royal Lancaster Infirmary.
Royal Lancaster Infirmary.
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Jurors at the inquest of a worker crushed when a trench collapsed have found the failure to carry out a risk assessment and take preventative measures contributed to his death.

James Sim, 32, affectionately known as Ginger, was working as a contractor for LD Oliver on a construction site linked to a windfarm project off Lancashire’s coast.

James Sim of Wales was crushed when a trench collapsed in Morecambe

James Sim of Wales was crushed when a trench collapsed in Morecambe

He had been working on pipelines close to the Heysham windfarm, near Lancaster, during a scheme to connect wiring to the windfarm to extract the electricity.

But on April 14, 2010, the trench he was working in collapsed on top of him, knocking him unconscious.

His colleagues frantically tried to free him and he was trapped beneath the rubble for around 40 minutes.

The inquest heard no risk assessment had been carried out that morning.

Mr Sim, from Barry, South Wales, was flown by air ambulance to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary where he was placed in intensive care.

On April 23, he died after contracting pneumonia, and remaining unresponsive, with the cause of his death being lack of oxygen to the brain.

Jurors reached a narrative verdict - where circumstances of a death are recorded without attributing the cause to a named individual.

The written conclusion said: “There was no evidence of any risk assessment being carried out in regards to trench safety on the morning of April 14, which was a major contributing factor to the injuries sustained by James leading to his death.

“ Based on evidence we’ve heard there were many contributing factors leading to the events on April 14, namely, the lack of communication and clarity as to who was supervising the project which led to inadequate and sometimes non-existent risk assessments, coupled with individuals’ complacency to ensure their own safety.

“Measures could have been taken to prevent trench collapse, with many examples been given, but nothing was put in place and it was the absence of these preventative measures that caused the death of James Sim.”

Mr Sim’s parents Julie and Tony, also from Barry, were present at Preston Coroner’s Court before coroner Dr James Adeley.