Scaffolder who fell through roof is left with ‘life-changing injuries’

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A man was left with life-changing injuries after failures by the scaffolding firm he worked for, a court ruled last week.

Stewart Thomas, of Hemel Hempstead, was working for Hemel Hempstead Scaffolding Ltd at the time of the incident on July 25, 2013.

But St Albans Crown Court heard how Mr Thomas was placing scaffold boards along the roof ridge when he fell through the fragile roof to the concrete floor eight metres below.

The father-of-one suffered multiple injuries to his head and neck including a brain stem injury, a punctured lung, broken ribs and a lacerated liver. Mr Thomas is now unable to talk, move or feed himself and requires residential care.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found Hemel Hempstead Scaffolding Ltd had never provided a written method statement or risk assessment for this work.

The firm pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974 and was fined £110,000 and ordered to pay £22,596 in costs.

The hearing, held on February 11, heard that there were also no fall protection measures in place, and there was also no appropriate supervision of inexperienced and trainee scaffolders on the site.

Speaking after the hearing, Stewart’s mother Karen said: “I have had to move from my home and family in Hemel Hempstead to Northamptonshire to be near Stewart.

“My other children find it very hard to see Stewart the way he is now, but along with my mother I visit every day. I have also taken a job nearby that keeps me close to Stewart but also gives me something else to concentrate on.

“My granddaughters are going to miss out so much on the things they would have done and learnt from Stewart.

“Since my son Stewart’s accident all our lives have been dramatically changed – hopefully we can try and move forward to make Stewart’s life as best we can with his family close by him.”

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Stephen Manley said: “The company’s approach to health and safety was poor.

“They failed to properly and safely plan the work they were contracted to carry out and failed to supervise inexperienced young workers.

“The particular works would have been unfamiliar to the team and so the lack of thorough supervision was lamentable.”

Hemel Hempstead Scaffolding Ltd was unavailable for comment.