A father-of-two who was paralysed in a fall is urging Merseyside’s small construction firms to be cautious.
Jason Anker, 43, made the plea at a free event at Haydock Park Racecourse in Newton-le-Willows to nearly 400 construction bosses and self-employed workers. Construction industry experts and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) were also on hand to provide the most up-to-date safety advice.
Anker was paralysed when he was 24 years old while working for a small roofing company in the Midlands. He was descending a ladder after repairing a flat roof when the ladder slipped and he fell ten feet to the ground below.
“The job had overrun, so we were rushing to finish it quickly, which meant risks were taken,” he explained. The ladder I was using was not secured to the building, and it slipped away as I was climbing back down.
“I remember lying on the ground and not being able to feel my legs, and the doctors basically told me I’d never walk again.” I was utterly devastated. I simply assumed that something like that would never happen to me.
“I believe small construction firms are tempted to take risks if they have a deadline to meet and another job to get to.” But it’s critical that they recognise that what happened to me could happen to their employees as well.”
In 2009/10, 42 construction workers were killed on the job, accounting for more than a quarter of all workplace fatalities. More than 3,000 people were also seriously injured.
The safety event included practical demonstrations on harness safety, asbestos and other dust-related diseases, power tool vibration injuries, and working in confined spaces, in addition to safe work at heights.
“It’s critical we’re able to get the message out to small construction firms that the risks their workers face are real, and it’s great that Jason was able to help us do that at the Haydock event,” said Mike Cross, HSE’s head of construction in the North West.
“It’s unlikely he would have fallen if the ladder he was using had been tied to the building.” It would have only taken a few minutes to do this, and Jason would still be able to walk today.
“We hope that construction managers and self-employed workers will continue to attend free events like the one at Haydock and take advantage of the advice available to ensure their safety.”
The event on September 15th was part of the Working Well Together initiative, a collaboration between the HSE and the construction industry aimed at improving health and safety in the industry.