‘Catalogue Of Errors’ Results In Serious Fall

Sub-Contractor Left Paralysed After Falling From Faulty Scaffolding

24.02.2014

A building contractor has been given a suspended jail sentence after he admitted to safety failings that led to an accident that left a man paralysed from the waist down.

Rodney Foyster of Lincoln pleaded guilty to breaching Section 4(1)(c) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 during a hearing at Lincoln Magistrates' Court.

He had employed Robert Wilkin to build a wall at a warehouse in North Hykeham in February last year.

Mr Wilkin suffered a double broken back after falling three metres from a substandard scaffold tower. He must now use a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Mr Foyster purchased and erected second-hand scaffolding before Mr Wilkin arrived on the job. He was not trained to do this.

Temporary working platforms were built on the inside and outside of the warehouse and a wooden board was placed at the top to allow workers to traverse between the two without climbing down.

Mr Wilkin fell as he attempted to negotiate the makeshift bridge and dropped to the concrete floor below.
His injuries have changed his life and his house has been adapted to allow him to live on the ground floor.

The 70-year-old said he did not remember much about the incident and he feels his freedom has been taken away because he can no longer do the things he loves.

Mr Foyster received a four-month prison sentence - suspended for 18 months - was ordered to carry out 200 hours worth of unpaid community work and was also told to pay £2,941 in costs during the court hearing.

HSE inspector Martin Waring commented: "Our investigations revealed a catalogue of errors made by Mr Foyster in the assembly of this scaffolding - something he was neither qualified for nor competent in doing.
"There were numerous defects such as no edge protection, poor ladder safety and insufficient access onto the scaffolds."

The construction industry remains one of the most hazardous in the UK - accounting for more than one in four occupational fatalities - and falls from height are still the leading cause of serious injuries.