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Compensation paid to family over Radstock man's death in mine collapse

By Somerset Guardian  |  Posted: September 27, 2012

Steve Cosh

Steve Cosh

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A company has paid an undisclosed figure to the family of a Radstock man crushed to death six years ago when a mine collapsed.

The family of 37-year-old Steve Cosh have this week confirmed they have reached an out-of-court settlement with the Bath Stone Group, although the firm said it admits no liability for the incident, which it believes was an accident.

Mr Cosh was working for the company at Stoke Hill Mine, in Limpley Stoke, in September 2006 when the roof of the mine collapsed and he was crushed by a one-and-a-half ton lump of limestone.

The stepdad-of-three had been working alone beyond the furthest line of roof bolts used to secure the ceiling when the collapse happened.

Despite the efforts of his work colleagues, who removed the boulder using a fork-lift truck, Mr Cosh was pronounced dead when he reached hospital.

In 2007, Avon Coroner's Court delivered a verdict of accidental death and said the circumstances of the incident had been unforeseeable.

But the Cosh family vowed to take the stone company to court and, speaking this week, Mr Cosh's widow Sarah said: "It is a huge relief that this matter has finally been resolved. The entire family can now attempt to move on from the horror of Steve's accident.

"He enjoyed his work and was a great family man. He is missed terribly by everyone who knew him. This money can never replace him but we feel that it is some recognition of the fact that we believe he died needlessly."

Law firm Thompsons, acting for the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which represented the Cosh family, claimed information presented to Mr Cosh's inquest had been flawed and that there had been health and safety breaches which caused or contributed to the roof's collapse.

Thompsons said it believed the stone company failed to ensure ground control measures were in place to keep the mine secure, and to follow its own set of "managers support rules" which could have identified abnormal ground conditions.

Lawyer Anthony Welsh said the case had been difficult.

He added: "Our experts identified what they said were a number of breaches which caused or contributed to the roof collapsing.

"The defendants' own experts corroborated our evidence and in the end we believe the employers had no choice but to settle the claim."

NUM official Wayne Thomas said: "Roof falls are among the largest cause of injuries in the mining industry and strict Health and Safety Executive regulations are designed to prevent these from happening.

"It was clear to us that Steve's death was caused by his employer's failure to abide by these well-known regulations and we were determined to ensure that his family received justice."

Elaine Marson, chairwoman of Bath Stone Group, said the company stood by the inquest's verdict.

She said: "After a protracted and jury-led inquest, the coroner's verdict on Steven's fatality was one of 'accidental and unforeseeable death' and this we still stand by.

"We are held up by our official body, the Mines Inspectorate, as an exemplar of good health and safety practice, and rigidly adhere to this regime at all times.

"Whilst we have every sympathy with Steven's family, and were all devastated by his death, we admit no liability whatsoever for this sad and unfortunate accident."

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