The family of a miner crushed to death by a giant boulder has received compensation after his trade union and its lawyers refused to accept a coroners’ decision that his death was accidental.

After a lengthy legal battle they were able to prove his employers’ failure to follow health and safety rules caused the accident.

Steve Cosh from Bath was 37 when he died in September 2006 after the roof of a mine he was working in as part of his job at Stoke Hill Mine, owned by Bath Stone Group collapsed.

He was pinned under a one and a half ton lump of limestone and found by a colleague returning from lunch. Despite efforts from his workmates to move the boulder using a fork lift truck, he was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

The stepdad of three and granddad to one had been working alone beyond the furthest line of roof bolts used to secure the ceiling.

Health and safety breaches caused or contributed to the roof’s collapse

An inquest into his death recorded accidental death but investigations by Steve’s trade union, the lawyers to the National Union of Miners’ Thompsons Solicitors found that reports to the inquest were inaccurate

Evidence from experts hired by Thompsons was ultimately backed up by the mine owners experts showing that a number of health and safety breaches caused or contributed to the roof’s collapse.

The failures by the mine owners included the lack of a written inspection report to assess the safety of the area Steve was working in, a failure to ensure ground control measures were in place to keep the mine secure and failing to follow its own set of ‘managers support rules’ which would have identified abnormal ground conditions.

Almost six years after the accident Bath Stone Group settled the claim out of court for an undisclosed sum.

Steve’s wife, 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 is some recognition of the fact he died needlessly.

“We are grateful to the NUM and Thompsons for not giving up and investigating further into his death to uncover what really caused his death.”

Roof falls are among the largest cause of injuries in the mining industry

Wayne Thomas, NUM, South Wales Area added: “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.”

Anthony Welsh from Thompsons Solicitors said: “Legally this was a difficult case to prove. Once the inquest found that Steve’s death was an unforeseeable accident we were facing an uphill battle. We now know that evidence which was provided to the inquest was inaccurate. Our experts identified a number of breaches which caused or contributed to the roof collapsing. The defendants own experts corroborated our evidence and in the end the employers had no choice but to settle the claim.

“Steve’s ex-employers extended this family’s grief by six years by failing to hold their hands up to safety failures at the beginning.