Firm fined after ladder fall man left paralysed

Share this article

A BUILDING firm has been fined £105,000 and ordered to pay £64,000 in court costs after a Skelmersdale roofer was paralysed in a ladder fall.

Michael Riley, 50, now has virtually no movement below his neck and will need a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Walton-based W Carroll & Sons Ltd, which hired him as a subcontractor to work on homes in Southport in January 2011, admitted safety breaches. Liverpool Crown Court was told the company had asked Mr Riley to remove cement sheets from a roof but he was not able to use the chute feeding rubble into a skip as the sheets contained asbestos and needed separate disposal. The only way of getting the 10kg bags of asbestos sheets down was to hold one on his shoulder, with only one hand on the ladder. The bags could not be tied and so had to be held upright.

As he made his way down the ladder, Mr Riley lost his balance and fell backwards for several metres. He hit the back of a truck that was parked next to the scaffolding and then fell onto the ground.

The court was told Carrolls had failed to provide a method statement or risk assessment for the work, or suitable equipment – such as a gin wheel – so that the bags could be lowered to the ground safely. The HSE probe also found the company had failed to change the system for removing asbestos waste following the incident.

HSE Inspector Alan Pojur said: “It’s shocking that the company failed to change its procedures even after Michael fell from the ladder, meaning other workers’ lives continued to be put in danger. Falls from height are the biggest cause of death in the construction industry and it’s vital firms take action to improve safety.”