A jury has been asked to consider whether safety played "second fiddle" to keeping production going causing a Warwickshire coal miner to die when he was overcome by methane gas.
Prosecutors at Sheffield Crown Court described how colleagues of Trevor Steeples, 46, fought to rescue him after he was incapacitated more than 700m underground at the Daw Mill colliery, near Nuneaton.
Details of Mr Steeples's death came at the opening of the trial of two managers at the pit when the accident happened in June 2006.
John Alstead, 54, of Selby, North Yorkshire, and Terry Davison, 53, of Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire, both deny breaching safety regulations.
Rex Tedd QC, prosecuting, told a jury "this wholly unnecessary loss of life followed from the fact that for weeks before, shift after shift, there had been unacceptably high levels of methane gas and unacceptably low levels of oxygen" in the area where Mr Steeples, of West Bridgford, Nottingham, had been working.
Mr Tedd said the affected areas had simply been fenced off and men continued to work in other parts of the district - which was about five miles from the pit bottom.
Opening the case, the prosecutor told the jury they would have to decide whether the managers took "unnecessary risks with the safety of the miners".
He said they would have to consider "whether safety of men underground played second fiddle to the desire to keep production going and keep coal flowing out of the mine".
Mr Tedd said Alstead was the mine manager at the time. Davison was an assistant under-manager with particular responsibilities in the 301's District of the mine, where the accident happened.
Mr Steeples was a foreman, or deputy, in the pit and had worked in the industry for many years.
Both men deny breaching parts of the Management and Administration of Safety and Health at Mines Regulations. The case was adjourned until Thursday.