15 May 2013
Family of fall man could launch compensation claim
The family of a man who fell to his death on an unsafe construction site could sue his former boss.
Russell Samuel, 48, was a self-employed father of two from Porth and worked for two companies as a scaffolder - Carillion Construction and Febrey - the time of the accident in January 2008.
Swansea Crown Court heard this week that Mr Samuel was dismantling a scaffold ladder access platform ahead of the installation of a staircase and roof on a new building's fourth floor when he dropped 19 metres to the ground.
As he fell, the scaffolder narrowly missed a carpenter who was working directly below him.
Mr Samuel, however, died two days after the incident as a result of multiple severe injuries, including a fractured skull.
A later Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found inadequate and ineffective health and safety management regimes were in operation at the site.
Inspectors also found there was little or no communication, instruction and information provided to the two companies' workforces - with many of the management team inadequately trained in health and safety, despite repeated warnings by health and safety consultants.
Carillion Construction, based in Wolverhampton, pleaded guilty to multiple health and safety breaches and was fined £130,000 and ordered to pay £52,500 in costs.
Febrey, previously located in Bristol, went into administration following the incident, meaning a judge could only fine the company the token amount of £85, but His Honour Judge Thomas said had the company still been solvent it would have faced a fine of around £250,000.
HSE inspector Anne Marie Orrells said: "Falls from height are still the biggest killer in the construction industry and this is the tragic reality of what can happen when adequate arrangements are not in place to manage health and safety.
"His [Mr Samuel's] children and family will have to live with his loss for the rest of their lives. It is heart-breaking that his untimely death could so easily have been prevented."
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Posted by Francesca Witney