Worker suffers life-changing injuries after roof fall

A construction worker from Carmarthen suffered life-changing injuries when he fell three metres from the roof of a farm building a court heard today.

Gwyndaf Davies, who was 21 at the time of the incident, was helping to re-roof a building at Penwerddu Farm, Boncath on 29 April 2009. He fell through the roof to the concrete floor below suffering multiple facial fractures, a traumatic brain injury and multiple spine fractures.

Mr Davies spent nine months as an in-patient at Morriston hospital and has undergone significant facial reconstructive surgery and eye surgery.

The accident has left Gwyndaf with the lasting effects of a traumatic brain injury, blind in one eye and partially sighted in the other. He has limited speech and cannot walk without aid. Gwyndaf continues to receive intensive physiotherapy and speech therapy, and it is likely he will require significant care for the rest of his life.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) today prosecuted Mr Davies’ employer, Delme L James Ltd, for failing to take steps to prevent workers falling from height. Mr Davies had worked for the company since leaving school.

HSE’s investigation revealed that the company did not plan, supervise or carry out the work safely. There was only limited edge protection to prevent workers falling from the roof and no measures to prevent them falling into the building.

Delme L James Ltd of Pencaer Bryn Ewan, Cynwyl Elfed, Carmarthenshire, pleaded guilty to a breach of Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 when they appeared before Haverfordwest magistrates. They were fined £8,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,189.40.

HSE inspector, Anne Marie Orrells, said:

“Mr Davies is a young man who has suffered dreadful injuries as a result of this accident which could have resulted in his death. This situation could so easily have been prevented and Mr Davies and his family are still trying to come to terms with the lasting effects of what has happened.

“Falls from height are one of the major causes of death and serious injury in the construction industry. The regulations are clear and well established but HSE continues to see tragic cases such as this resulting from employers not fulfilling their duty to protect workers.

“There is a great deal of guidance freely available on the HSE website, so there is no excuse for getting it wrong – especially given the severity of the consequences.”

Provisional figures for 2008/09 show that 24 people in Carmarthenshire alone received injuries that were classed as major or requiring more than three days off work as a result of a fall from height. Figure released by HSE in June this year show that seven workers were killed at work in Wales between 1 April 2009 and 31 March 2010.