Two firms fined after scaffold pole hit man

Richard Chodkiewicz
Image caption Mr Chodkiewicz was left with brain damage when the scaffold pole hit him

Two construction firms have been fined a total of £110,000 after a piece of scaffold fell 14 storeys down a lift shaft and hit a man.

Richard Chodkiewicz, 53, was standing at the bottom of the shaft when the 19in (50cm) pole weighing 8lb (3.7kg) struck him, causing brain damage.

Millar Construction, which was running the project to build the Radisson Blu hotel in Bristol, was fined £40,000.

Hoistway, which employed the father-of-two, was fined £70,000.

Both had previously admitted breaches of health and safety regulations.

Judge David Ticehurst, at Bristol Crown Court, said the accident had devastated the lift engineer's family but could have been easily avoided.

The court was told that on 22 July 2008, Mr Chodkiewicz, from Lawrence Weston in Bristol, had been working on the lift shaft with two other experienced engineers.

The scaffolding was attached to a piece of piano wire and was acting as a plumb bob to aid with measurements in order to make the new lifts work properly.

'Child-like' state

One of Mr Chodkiewicz' co-workers went to reel it up, while he and the other man went to smoke a cigarette.

When they came back they assumed he had finished and got back into the "pit" at the bottom of the shaft.

The plumb bob then became detached from the wire as it was wound up and it hurtled back to the ground.

Mr Chodkiewicz spent six weeks in intensive care and has been left in a "child-like" state, the court was told.

Oliver Willmott, prosecuting, said: "This injury has had a devastating effect on his life and that of his wife, his five children and his grandchildren.

"He needs 24-hour care and cannot work."

A statement from Mr Chodkiewicz's family said his life has been turned "upside down" as a result of what happened.

"His life will never be the same and he now has to live with the consequences of the terrible mistakes which happened on site that day."

Both companies accepted their part in the failures that led to the accident and apologised to Mr Chodkiewicz' family in court.

Miller was ordered to pay £17,232 and Hoistway £14,616 in court costs.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites