Coroner criticises Royal Navy over sailor’s death

MISSED Joshua Woodhouse
MISSED Joshua Woodhouse
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PORTSMOUTH’S coroner has criticised the Royal Navy for a culture of cutting corners on health and safety aboard its warships.

It comes at the end of a two-week inquest into the death of Lieutenant Joshua Woodhouse, 25, from Portsmouth, who died after falling 40ft from a landing craft suspended at the side of HMS Ocean.

Lt Woodhouse suffered severe head injuries when he landed on another craft which was in the water.

He was not wearing a safety harness.

Yesterday a jury returned a narrative verdict and said that while there was not enough evidence to determine what caused him to fall, the outcome would probably have been different if he was wearing a harness.

The jury suggested a relaxed attitude towards health and safety and a ‘can-do’ attitude contributed to Lt Woodhouse’s death.

Portsmouth coroner David Horsley said he would write to the Ministry of Defence to highlight the concerns.

He said: ‘There are a couple of matters of concern to me.

‘The jury has highlighted one of them in their verdict and that was a culture they feel existed aboard the ship which resulted in corners being cut in relation to safety procedures. My suspicion is that this does not relate to just that little boat section or that ship but was perhaps throughout the Royal Navy’s fleet. I want the MoD and the navy to look further at what could be done to reinforce awareness of the value and purpose of health and safety regulations.’

The incident happened while the warship was moored at the Mayport naval station in Florida, USA.

Lt Woodhouse was taken to hospital but died four days later from his injuries on August 10, 2010.

After the inquest, a navy spokeswoman said: ‘The naval service is fully committed to making the Royal Navy a workplace where safety and risk are properly managed and the Royal Navy is taking steps to improve health and safety generally.’

The navy said a programme had been implemented which aims to change attitudes towards health and safety across the service.