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Builder sentenced over colleague’s fall

9 December 2013

A building worker suffered life-changing injuries in a fall after a colleague loosened a scaffolding guardrail which later gave way, a court has heard today (9 Dec).

The 42-year-old self-employed labourer from Bristol, who does not wish to be named, broke his back after falling nearly three metres to the ground at the building site in Cheddar.  He remains unable to work and may never be to carry out manual labour again.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted the building worker for safety failings.

Taunton Magistrates’ Court was told that a fellow builder, David Dix, 52, was also working on the construction site at a care home in Tweentown on 30 January 2013. Mr Dix loosened ascaffold guardrail to try and resolve a problem he had encountered.   However Mr Dix failed to tighten it up properly again. Shortly afterwards, the other worker was emptying a muck bin when the guardrail gave way and he fell 2.8 metres to the ground.

David John Dix, of Cambrook Close, Camerton, near Bath, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 8 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was ordered to pay £700 compensation to the injured party.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Sue Adsett, said:

“What happened that day could easily have been avoided and will affect the injured man for the rest of his life. Scaffolding should only be altered by scaffolders, but David Dix took it upon himself to adjust some scaffolding when he was not authorised to do so, with disastrous consequences.

“He had no ulterior motive – like most construction workers he was simply trying to get on with the job when a problem arose that he was trying to overcome. The consequences of the incident have had a huge impact upon him as well.

“I hope this case makes construction workers stop and think before putting themselves and their colleagues at risk by altering scaffolding on building sites.”

For further information about safety on construction sites please go to:

Notes to Editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement.
  2. Section 8 of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 sates: “No person shall intentionally or recklessly interfere with or misuse anything provided in the interests of health, safety or welfare in pursuance of any of the relevant statutory provisions.”
  3. Visit for all HSE news releases.



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