A grieving family has urged employers to be more stringent about health and safety following the death of 38-year-old scaffolder David Smith last year.
The plea came after North London Coroner’s Court found the father of two’s fatal fall was caused by multiple defects in scaffolding, both erected and dismantled by workers lacking the proper industry qualifications.
A Telling Verdict
The jury at Mr Smith’s inquest in late November recorded a narrative verdict detailing how he fell 24 feet after the scaffolding was dismantled in an incorrect sequence, causing it to become unbalanced underneath him. The self-employed contractor who worked for Wembley Scaffolding Services Ltd for more than 10 years suffered severe brain and internal injuries, as a result of falling at a site on Cricklewood Broadway in February 2017.
Following the incident, the dad to 16-year-old daughter Tia and 18-year-old son Charlie, was airlifted to St Mary’s hospital for surgery. His family was informed it was unlikely he would survive, and if he did it was thought he could be severely brain damaged. David’s condition worsened as a result of several strokes, his life support eventually being turned off by the family on the advice of doctors. Mr Smith was pronounced dead in hospital on March 4, 16 days after the incident.
His mother Lorraine, 60, said: “Our family still cannot believe he is no longer with us. He has left a huge hole in our lives and we are devastated that he will not get to see his children grow up.
“It is difficult not to think that if just a few simple steps had been taken Dave would still be with us today.
“All we can hope for now is that his death was not totally in vain and employers recognise the importance of upholding health and safety standards at all times.”
It was revealed police had considered bringing corporate manslaughter charges after the tragic accident, which also led to another worker being seriously injured. They decided not to proceed, though Workplace injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell investigating on the family’s behalf and a report by the Health and Safety Executive, found a number of serious health and safety failings.
They discovered there were not enough ties to secure the structure, which had been in place for nearly three months. Neither the company’s managers or the labourers working on it were properly trained or qualified for such a complex structure.
“The inquest has been an incredibly difficult time for Mr Smith’s family as they listened to the evidence as to how he was fatally injured,” said Irwin Mitchell lawyer Charlotte Dowson.
“The family had a number of concerns and during the course of the inquest worrying evidence was presented to the court with regards to how some health and safety practices were not followed.
“We now call on all businesses to ensure that health and safety standards are enforced at all times to help protect workers.
“We will continue to support Lorraine and the rest of the family at this difficult time.”
Revealed To Jury
The jury at the inquest revealed the site manager was unaware the scaffold required calculation by a civil engineer, or that a plan for dismantling it was needed in accordance with TG2013 industry standards. A prior risk assessment linked to the scaffold construction contained insufficient detail.
After the inquest Mr Smith’s son Charlie added: “My dad loved and cared for me and always made me happy. He was everything to me.
“He was protective of me and my sister and was always there for us when we needed him.
“He was a generous person and loved to spend time with us. He was a funny guy and often made me laugh.”
David was described as the best father anyone could wish for.