Loved Ones ‘Paid Ultimate Price’ Because Of Safety Failings
The family of a workman who plunged to his death from a defective scaffolding rig have issued a health and safety warning after a company was fined thousands of pounds.
David Smith suffered a catalogue of injuries, including brain and internal injuries, when he fell five metres from the structure in Cricklewood Broadway, north west London.
The 38-year-old from Cricklewood was airlifted to St Mary’s Hospital and underwent emergency surgery. However, his condition did not improve. The father-of-two died 16 days after the incident after his family, on the advice of doctors, made the agonising decision to withdraw his life support.
Following David’s death his family, including mum Lorraine Wright, instructed expert work accident lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the incident.
David’s family have now joined their legal team at Irwin Mitchell in urging companies to ensure health and safety standards are maintained at all times to help reduce the number of employees seriously injured or killed in the workplace.
It comes after Wembley Scaffolding Services was fined nearly £8,000 after pleading guilty to health and safety breaches as part of a Health and Safety Executive prosecution. A director of the Watford-based company also admitted breaches. He received a suspended jail term.
Insurers for Wembley Scaffolding Services have admitted liability for David’s death as part of a civil case.
Expert Opinion“David was a much-loved son and a father who worked hard for and was adored by his family.
“While more than three years may have passed since his death, Lorraine and the rest of the family remain devastated by his death, particularly given how unexpected and avoidable it was.
“David’s death is a stark reminder of the terrible consequences families can be left to face because of health and safety failings.
“We call on all businesses to ensure that they comply with the law at all times to help protect workers under their care.” Darshana Patel - Solicitor
David, who had a son, Charlie, now aged 20, and daughter, Tia, now 18, was a self-employed contractor. He had worked for Wembley Scaffolding Services Ltd for around 13 years.
He was working at a site in Cricklewood Broadway on 16 February, 2017, when the structure gave way.
Another worker was also seriously injured when they also fell from the structure.
David was taken to hospital. Following surgery his family were told it was unlikely he would survive and if he did he would be severely brain damaged.
David’s condition did not improve and he suffered several strokes. He was pronounced dead on 4 March.
Wembley Scaffolding Services admitted three health and safety breaches at a hearing at Southwark Crown Court. It was fined £7,860 with £8,940 costs.
Sean Chapple, of Northwood, a director of the firm, pleaded guilty to five offences. He received a 12 week prison sentence suspended for one year, was fined £1,000 and was ordered to pay costs of £11,000.
The company director failed to carry out a suitable risk assessment, plan the work and provide a design for erection and dismantling of the scaffold. He was not knowledgeable about the measures required to do this without putting people at risk and therefore didn’t follow the correct measures to ensure safe erection and dismantling of the scaffold, the HSE said.
Lorraine, 62, said: “Dave was one of life’s nice guys. He was a real hard worker, who would do anything for his family. He had a great personality and was loved by not just his family but his many friends.
“The years since Dave’s death have been incredibly difficult. It’s still hard to accept his death, particularly the circumstances of it. What hurts the most is that he’s not here to see Charlie and Tia grow up and what beautiful people they have become despite what they have been through.
“It’s difficult to put into words how traumatic and painful the last few years have been. The pain is still raw for all of us, particularly Charlie and Tia, who have never known how to process the horrors they witnessed seeing their Dad in hospital and the loss they feel every day.
“At the time we kept telling them that it was a tragic accident and nobody was to blame. However, as more detail emerged as part of the investigations the more upset and angry we were about what was allowed to happen.
“Scaffolding is a dangerous occupation that’s why there are so many safety regulations in place. For these measures not to be in place is unforgivable.
“Our only hope now is to keep campaigning about how important health and safety really is. Our family paid the ultimate price because of such failings. We want to prevent more children from having to hold their dad’s broken bones in intensive care while watching their life ebb away. We wouldn’t wish others to experience what we have.”
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