Pipeline worker was crushed in Heysham trench

Photo: David Hurst'Preston Coroner's Court, Faraday Court, Fulwood
Photo: David Hurst'Preston Coroner's Court, Faraday Court, Fulwood

A worker was crushed when a trench collapsed on him as he worked on a construction site linked to an offshore windfarm project.

James Sim, 32, affectionately known as Ginger, was working as a contractor for construction firm LD Oliver when he was knocked unconscious by the ground falling in.

He had been working on pipelines close to a Heysham wind farm, during a scheme to connect wiring to the farm 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.

He was eventually flown by air ambulance to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary where he was placed in intensive care on life support.

However on April 23, he died after contracting pneumonia.

His parents Julie and Tony, also from Barry, attended a jury inquest into the tragedy at Preston Coroner’s Court.

Professor Morris, a consultant pathologist, said the cause of death was lack of oxygen to the brain, caused by the crushing injury.

Witnesses had previously told the hearing the trench appeared to be too narrow.

Site engineer John Doorey, who wrote various documents relating to the installation of electrical cabling from the off shore windfarm to the substation, also gave evidence.

Coroner Dr James Adeley discussed various documents about the engineering work and asked him why the risk of trench collapse was not included in a document he had written.

He replied: “With hindsight it should be in there and may well have changed since. To be honest I didn’t think with what we were doing it would usually be considered.”

The court heard at points where the trench would have to cross other utilities the trench would have to be dug deeper.

Dr Adeley said: “Did it not register when completing this document, that it should be something that entered your mind, just looking at potential risks?”

Mr Doorey replied: “I understand what you are saying but I wasn’t aware of any services where we would have been made to dig much deeper - it didn’t really cross my mind.”

The court heard Construction (Design and Management) Regulations make reference to “practical steps” being taken to prevent danger to any person and ensure an excavation does not collapse.

Dr Adeley asked:: “If you had been aware of this regulation would you not have included something in your risk assessment.”

Mr Doorey said: “That’s correct, I was not aware of that.”

(proceeding)