South East Wales

Electrocution inquiry over Cwmcarn High School worker's death

Cwmcarn High School
Image caption James Paul had been working to remove asbestos from Cwmcarn High School

An asbestos removal worker who died at a secondary school may have been electrocuted, Newport Coroner's Court has heard.

James Paul, 26, from Abertillery, Blaenau Gwent had been working in a suspended ceiling space of Cwmcarn High School in Caerphilly county on 19 July.

Workers had been removing asbestos from the 900-pupil school which had been forced to close over safety fears.

Gwent Coroner David Bowen adjourned the investigation until 3 October.

The hearing was told Mr Paul was found unresponsive after paramedics attended the school at about 15:15 BST and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mr Paul had suffered a cardiac arrest whilst working in suspended ceiling space, Mr Bowen heard.

An investigation by Gwent Police and the Health and Safety Executive is continuing.

Mr Paul's body has been released to his family.

A spokesman for Caswell Environmental Ltd, the asbestos contractor working at the school, said: "We're assisting Gwent police and the health and safety executive in every way we can.

"Our greatest sympathies go out to Mr Paul's family.

"The site has been released by the police but we are still conducting our own investigations with the relevant authorities to find out exactly what happened before work will continue."

Cwmcarn High School had been closed in October 2012 after a council-commissioned report found that asbestos posed a potential health risk.

But a subsequent report from the HSE said asbestos was present, as it was in other public buildings, but it did not present a risk.

Following the closure of the school, its 900 pupils have been taught 12 miles (19km) away at Coleg Gwent's Ebbw Vale campus, prompting parents' protests.

Caerphilly council has paid £1m to deal with the asbestos, with pupils expected back for the autumn term in September.

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