W Carroll & Sons Ltd has been fined £105,000 after a workman was paralysed following a fall from a ladder whilst carrying a bag of building materials on a project in Southport.

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

Liverpool Crown Court heard that the company was working on a project to replace the roofs on approximately 350 properties in the Maghull and Southport area Mr Riley was asked to remove cement sheets from the roof of a house on Victory Avenue in Southport, but was not able to use the chute feeding general rubble into a skip as the sheets contained asbestos and needed to be disposed of separately.  The bags of asbestos sheets were taken to the ground by holding each bag on his shoulder, with one hand on the ladder. The 10 kg bags could not be tied and so were held upright. Mr Riley was making his way down the ladder on 21 January 2011 when he lost his balance and fell backwards for several metres. He hit the back of a truck that was parked next to the scaffolding and fell onto the ground.

Both his legs and arms were paralysed in the fall, and he suffered major internal injuries which mean he will be severely disabled for the rest of his life. The court was a “method statement or risk assessment” was not provided for the work. Suitable equipment e.g. a gin wheel, could have be provided so that the bags could be lowered to the ground safely.

“Shocking” that company failed to change procedures after fall

W Carroll & Sons Ltd, of Delamore Street in Walton, was fined £105,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £64,600 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 on 24 January 2014.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Alan Pojur said:

“Michael has suffered major injuries that will mean he will need to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life, and he could easily have been killed because of Carrolls’ failings. The roofers had been told not to mix the asbestos waste with the other rubble so they couldn’t use the chutes. The only option they had was to carry the bulky, unsealed bags on their shoulders as they made their way down the ladders. This required them to hold the ladder with only one hand. 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.”