‘BRITTLE’ screws could have contributed to the collapse of racking which killed a 20-year-old employee at a landscaping firm, an inquest heard.

Cameron Taylor, from Whitehaven, was working for Coombe & Sharpe on the Lillyhall industrial estate in Workington when he died on January 15, 2021.

During the second day of Mr Taylor’s inquest at Cockermouth Coroners’ Court, Michael Griffiths, an inspector in health and safety from the Health and Safety Executive, said he had visited the Coombe & Sharpe site on the day Mr Taylor died – and on January 18, 2021.

He said: "We got a call fairly early in the morning from police that there was a serious accident and a fatality.

"We waited for a little bit more detail. We try to go out on the day to preserve evidence. We arrived on site at one o'clock. Cameron was still on the scene at that time. We were told what the circumstances were."

Mr Griffiths said wood had been thrown out of the door of the cabin Mr Tayor had been working in while staff attempted to rescue him. He said 75 lengths of timber were outside in an untidy pile.

When asked what he did when he returned to the site on January 18, Mr Griffiths said: "We had a look at the scene of the incident.

"One of the things we saw straightaway was some of the screws had bent and sheared. Obviously the screws were quite important in the investigation.

"We asked Alan Sharpe where the screws had come from. He [Mr Sharpe] hadn't been involved in the construction of the racking.

"He came back with a box of screws. We couldn't find any open boxes of screws.

"We couldn't find the box Cameron had been using at the time."

Mr Griffiths said the HSE counted a total of 111 lengths of wood, weighing roughly two tonnes.

He said they were "very confident" that the timber outside the cabin had been on the shelf.

Mr Griffiths said the lengths of timber and the wood used to construct the racking had been tested and met the standards.

But tests on the screws showed they were “a little more brittle than they should have been”. He said the screws could have contributed to the collapse of the racking.

The inquest heard there had been a 'cascade effect' which caused the wood to fall on Mr Taylor.

Mr Griffiths said "We don't know which shelf failed first. We just don't know. We can't determine it after the event.

"There's just too many unknowns.

"It was stood up the night before. It wasn't making any noises. It was still stood up at 8 o'clock in the morning."

Coroner Kirsty Gomersal asked if Cameron would have been able to see if the screws had been brittle.

Mr Griffiths replied: "I very much doubt it. I couldn't see it."

The inquest continues.