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Cameron Taylor death: Screws could have contributed to collapse

Jul 17, 2023Jul 17, 2023

Screws used in racking that collapsed and killed a young landscaper could have contributed to its failure, an inquest has heard.

Cameron Taylor, 20, was crushed at Coombe and Sharpe Landscaping in Workington in January 2021.

Cumbria's coroner heard Mr Taylor had built the racking for timber storage under supervision the day before.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said there was an "anomaly" found with some of the screws used.

The coroner Kirsty Gomersall previously heard Mr Taylor was loading long lengths of timber on to the racking, which consisted of five 2m (6ft)-high rectangular frames set 1m apart, when there was a "terrible accident" at about 10:00 GMT on 15 January.

Bosses at the Lillyhall Industrial Estate site said they found him buried beneath timber and, after pulling the wood away to free him, tried in vain to perform CPR.

The inquest has heard Mr Taylor was highly regarded by his employers and was a passionate rugby player who enjoyed socialising with friends, loving a simple life.

Michael Griffiths, a lead investigator for the HSE, said it was believed there were 111 pieces of wood, most up to 16ft (4.8m) long, weighing about two tonnes on the five shelves at the time of the collapse.

The court heard there were four screws holding each shelf, with Mr Taylor following the instructions and design of his line manager Philip Duggan, a well-respected joiner with more than 30 years experience.

Mr Griffiths said the wood used to build the shelves "more than passed" HSE strength and safety tests but there was an "anomaly" found with the screws.

He said they could not be sure exactly which brand of screw Mr Taylor had used or how they had been stored, but HSE scientists concluded it was "likely" they had suffered from a condition called hydrogen embrittlement potentially caused in their manufacture, adding the "failure of the screws could have contributed to the collapse of the rack".

Mr Grifftiths said there were 20 screws supporting the five middle shelves and timber, 17 of which "failed" although it was not known if there was a partial failure first or a total collapse.

He said there were "too many unknowns" about what went wrong, but its failure had to take into account the design, way it was built, way it was loaded and a "little bit of a potential issue with the screws".

Mr Duggan said he had built similar racking systems multiple times and none had ever failed before.

He said he carried out a "visual inspection" and "wobble" test of the frames after Mr Taylor had built and installed them and found no issues at all.

The inquest continues.

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