Benjamin David Campbell was a 31-year-old groundworker and father from Ramsbottom in Greater Manchester. On the morning of Friday 11th of November 2022, he was working at a building site at a new housing development in Whitworth, Lancashire. After being told that the digger he was driving wasn’t needed at that time, he was seen parking the machine.
Not long after, Ben was found by colleagues slumped over the steering wheel, unresponsive. Paramedics were called immediately but despite efforts to resuscitate him, death was pronounced at 9 AM.
Area Coroner Richard Taylor said:
“Mr Campbell had arrived at work on November 11th at 07:30 in the morning. About 20 minutes later a colleague saw him slumped over the wheel of a digger truck, unresponsive. He was removed from the vehicle and CPR was commenced but death was confirmed at 9 AM.”
An inquest was held on Wednesday 29th of March at Preston Coroner’s Court in Lancashire to find out the circumstances surrounding Ben’s death. Post-mortem investigations concluded that the cause of Ben’s death was a cardiac arrest caused by the use of steroids and cocaine.
The inquest uncovered that Ben had been purchasing anabolic steroids from a bodybuilding shop, even though anabolic steroids (which are categorised as class C drugs) should only be issued by pharmacists with a medical prescription, according to the NHS. The senior investigating officer, DI Tom Edmondson, said in a report that Ben had taken steroids the night before, according to information that he was given.
The Lancashire County Council website names Ben’s death as a “misadventure” instead of a drug or alcohol-related death. ‘Death by misadventure’ is a term given when a person dies by taking a risk voluntarily. That is: Ben’s death was not ruled accidental.
Studies have proven that mental ill health and misusing drugs and alcohol are connected. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that the most frequent wholly attributable cause of hospital admissions from 2013-4 was “mental and behavioural disorders due to use of alcohol”. On The Tools recently found that around 93% of UK tradespeople surveyed have been impacted by mental ill health in some way.
In addition, misusing drugs and alcohol is an issue in the construction industry that is widespread, yet underreported. For ‘Behind the High-Vis: a Mental Health White Paper’, On The Tools asked tradespeople whether they had ever misused drugs, alcohol, or both in an attempt to mitigate symptoms of mental ill health. Around two-thirds (64%) of UK tradespeople had misused drugs, alcohol, or both in an attempt to mitigate symptoms of mental ill health. The Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) suggests that 35% of tradespeople witnessed their colleagues working under the influence of drugs or alcohol in 2019.
The implications of working in construction under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol can be severe; the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that construction is the deadliest sector to work in, even without the contributions of drugs and alcohol. Despite this, drug and alcohol testing is not yet mandated by law in the construction industry.