Personal Injury

Compensation for building site worker hit by brick which fell from ‘dangerously overloaded’ scaffolding

Closeup of bricklayer hands laying brick wall of house

Sarah Moore

Litigation Executive

5 min read time

A construction company has agreed damages with a worker who was hit by a brick which fell from scaffolding which had been unsafely stacked and ‘overloaded’.

The man had been erecting scaffolding on the site of an apartment development in West Yorkshire when the accident happened in April 2022.

The 43-year-old says he had previously warned site managers that builders had been overloading scaffolding boards with bricks, to the point where he was worried the boards may collapse under the extra weight.

Bricks were supposed to be stacked in piles of 65 but were stacked in piles of around 200, resulting in one falling from above and onto the man’s hand, fracturing the little finger on his right hand in three places.

“The irony is that I myself had been warning the site manager that it was an accident waiting to happen for some time as the bricks were being overloaded so much that the scaffold boards were beginning to bend,” he said.

“I was worried about them collapsing completely, and also the unsafe nature of stacking them so high. I’d mentioned it a few times but nothing changed, so I had to just get on with my job and it was unfortunate that, when a brick did fall, I was underneath.

“When it happened I didn’t quite realise how bad it was, as I had my gloves on and I think initially the shock took away some of the pain. Then when I removed my glove I saw a big split on the end of my finger and you could see the muscle and tendon.”

Damages settlement agreed out of court

The man, who has now been awarded a damages settlement after being represented our accident at work claims team at Hudgell Solicitors, says he feels a much worse injury could have been suffered.

“I’ve worked on building sites for more than 30 years and the danger comes when corners are cut in a bid to get things done quicker,” he said.

“I’d come onto site in a morning and I’d see the boards piled high with bricks, with as many as possible crammed into an area where bricklayers could reach them, and it just wasn’t safe. It was all to do with speed and ease. As soon as you start cutting corners though, you are taking a risk.”

The man missed three days of work as he received hospital treatment for the injury and spent close to two months on lighter duties before he was able to return to his usual role.

“I still have some issue with the tip of my finger and suffer from numbness. I’ve been told by experts that the feeling will come back fully in time, but we are more than a year after the accident now,” he said.

“It was avoidable and I’d raised the issue many times, so I made sure that was noted on the accident record. It shouldn’t have happened.”

Legal case alleged breach of work safety regulations

The man was represented by Sarah Moore, of Hudgell Solicitors’ personal injury claims team. She filed a claim on his behalf relating to his building site injury, alleging the construction company had breached their duty of care by allowing an unsafe working environment on the site, by allowing the bricks to be stacked dangerously.

It was also alleged they had failed to take any or any adequate care for the safety of the workers, and exposed him to ‘a foreseeable risk of injury’.

Legal representatives acting for the company admitted liability for the accident and offered a damages settlement which was agreed without the need for the case to be heard in a court.

“The construction firm were the main contractors of this site and the scaffold had not been installed and used its safety specifications,” she said.

“The bricks were supposed to be stacked in piles of 65 but were stacked circa 200 in each pile therefore presenting a foreseeable risk that they would fall.

“Whenever you hear the phrase ‘an accident waiting to happen’ at work it usually relates to a corner being cut to either do the job quicker, or more conveniently, whilst forgoing the need for safety.

“In this case it was clearly an unsafe practice to allow bricks to be stacked so high, so much so that the matter had been raised with managers on site. It is their responsibility to ensure all who work on building sites adhere to the health and safety regulations, and that did not happen on this occasion.

“It resulted in an injury to our client, and one which could have been much more serious. We were pleased to be able to secure him damages and we are glad he came to us with this case as we hope lessons have been learned and improvements made to safety management on sites in the future.”

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