Family’s Relief As Companies Responsible For Building Site Accident Are Sentenced In Court

Lawyer Calls For Lessons To Be Learnt After Worker Suffers ‘Wholly Avoidable’ Injuries As Pole Fell 18 Floors

24.06.2011

The family of a man left fighting for his life after he was hit on the head by a scaffolding pole that fell 18 floors on a Bristol building site, have spoken of their relief following the sentencing of two construction firms today ( Friday June 24th) 

Bristol Crown Court sentenced Miller Construction and Hoistway Ltd to fines of £40,000 and £70,000 respectively, plus costs, after both parties previously pleaded guilty to failing to protect the health and safety of construction worker Richard Chodkiewicz.

The 53-year-old father of five from Lawrence Weston was left suffering serious brain injuries, in need of emergency surgery, unable to return to work and facing months of painful rehabilitation after a scaffolding pole fell 18 floors and hit him on the head whilst working at a the site which is now a Radisson Hotel on Broad Quay in July 2008.

Now, a serious injury specialist Irwin Mitchell solicitors in Bristol who is representing the family, says that it is essential that the construction industry learns important lessons from this tragic case to ensure that no one else suffers a ‘wholly avoidable’  workplace accident.

Speaking after today’s sentencing, Richard’s wife Karen Chodkiewicz said: “We are extremely grateful to the HSE for bringing the criminal prosecution and are relieved that today’s sentencing of the two companies involved means that justice has been done.

“We were also pleased to hear that as a result of what happened, the companies have since implemented new safety systems to hopefully ensure similar tragedies are avoided in the future.

“Richard’s life has been turned upside down as a result of what happened that day. His life will never be the same and he now has to live with the consequences of the terrible mistakes which happened on site that day.”

During the criminal prosecution, brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) against specialist lift company, Hoistway, and main contractor, Miller Construction it was revealed that the scaffolding pole had been tied to a plumb line and was being used as a makeshift ‘plum bob’ to align part of the construction. The pole, which had not been secured properly, came loose as it was being winched 18 storeys up inside the lift shaft and fell to the base of the shaft, striking Mr Chodkiewicz who was working below. 

Serious Injury specialist, Deborah Bigwood, from Irwin Mitchell’s Bristol office, who is representing the family, said:  “This particularly horrific workplace accident highlights the importance of the health and safety regulations which exist to protect workers. They have a fundamental right to know that when they go to work they will return home safely and unharmed.

“Richard did everything he could to protect himself. He wore a safety helmet and was following correct procedures yet, because other individuals on site that day were ignoring safety regulations he suffered appalling injuries which were wholly avoidable.

“Both Hoistway and Miller Construction should have had in place appropriate health and safety and risk assessment checks to ensure that all employees on site were following correct procedures and had the correct equipment readily available  to do their jobs.

”Following the conclusion of today’s criminal proceedings, we very much hope that the defendants will work with us to bring about a swift conclusion to the separate civil action.

“Sadly, Richard will never be able to live independently or return to work. Whilst no amount of money will ever turn back the clock, it is important that we now secure justice for Richard and his family so that he has a care package that will provide rehabilitation and financial security for the rest of his life.”