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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 June 2007, 18:04 GMT 19:04 UK
Worker paralysed after site fall
Ladder at the scene of the fall - photo: HSE
The HSE's photograph of the ladder at the scene of John Greig's fall
A carpenter was left paralysed after breaking his spine when he fell off an unsecured ladder on a building site, a court heard today.

John Greig, 47, lost all feeling in his lower body and has been told he will never walk again following the accident in Llanishen, Cardiff, in January 2005.

Mr Greig, of Llantwit Major, Vale of Glamorgan, was installing roof trusses on a double extension when he fell.

His employer admitted a safety breach and was fined 6,000 with 5,000 costs.

Mr Greig fell while trying to access scaffolding with a circular saw.

The ladder was not tied correctly and access to the scaffolding was blocked by a guard rail.

His employer Dennis Wheeler, 51, pleaded guilty at Newport magistrates to a breach of Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, by failing to ensure the safety of employees on site.

Wheeler, a company director of a building firm in St Mellons, publicly apologised through his barrister for Mr Greig's fall.

It is only good fortune Mr Greig was not killed as he suffered as serious an injury that could be caused short of death
Judge Neil Bidder QC

Anthony Vines, prosecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), said when Mr Greig reached the top of the ladder his path onto the scaffolding was hindered by a guard rail.

"He felt the ladder move and he fell," said Mr Vines.

During his fall Mr Greig's head hit some scaffolding and his back bore the brunt of the impact when he hit the ground.

Mr Vines added: "The circular saw is believed to have then hit him on the head."

The site was immediately closed down and Wheeler reported the incident to the HSE, which launched an investigation.

The court heard the installation of a gin wheel to hoist tools was all that was needed to prevent the accident.

Mr Vines said Wheeler's company had been served with a prohibition notice in 2002 in relation to the safety aspects of scaffolding on one of his sites.


Christopher Quinlan, defending, said that while the injuries suffered by Mr Greig had been a disaster for him, he said the actual breach of the Health and Safety Act was minor.

"The breach is not a significant one and he (Wheeler) did not fall far below what was reasonably practicable," said Mr Quinlan.

"This is not a man cutting corners with equipment to save money and it is not a man playing hard and fast with health and safety regulations."

Judge Neil Bidder QC told Wheeler the 2002 prohibition notice should have served as a "warning sign" to him.

He added: "In my judgment it was a serious breach of duty and it is only good fortune Mr Greig was not killed as he suffered as serious an injury that could be caused short of death."

After the case, Dean Baker of the HSE said: "The installation of a simple gin wheel or a hoist on the scaffold would have prevented this unfortunate accident.

"Falling from height is the biggest killer in construction. Any work at height should be properly planned and where scaffolding is used, it should be inspected by a competent person."

Brewer fined for worker roof fall
01 May 07 |  South East Wales
Workman injured in building fall
29 May 07 |  North West Wales
Builder injured in scaffold fall
13 Jun 07 |  West Midlands

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