Wales

Brother of death fall man backs building safety drive

Building site workers
Image caption Safety inspections are to make unannounced calls on building sites

The brother of a man who died in a fall from a roof is backing a crackdown on dangers at building sites across Wales.

Colin Williams spoke as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launches a series of unannounced inspections at sites to cut death and injuries.

His brother Paul Alker, 34, fell through a skylight at the Comet store in Wrexham in 2007.

The firm was fined £75,000 and Mr Alker's contractor employer was jailed for two years for gross negligence.

Mr Williams, from Wrexham, said: "I don't want anyone to go through what we went through."

The latest available figures show 503 workers were injured and one worker died while working in construction across Wales during 2009/10.

The HSE is investigating four deaths reported in construction in Wales during 2010.

A lack of safety equipment and planning led to the death of labourer Mr Alker after he fell 7.3 m (24ft) through a fragile roof in June 2007 in what Mold Crown Court heard was an "accident waiting to happen".

Mr Alker was employed by Steven Smith, of Wrexham Roofing Services, who misled Comet about his professional skills after his firm was randomly picked out of Yellow Pages to carry out the work.

Comet, which did not provide Smith with its own health and safety policies, admitted failing to ensure the safety of Mr Alker.

Mr Williams, who works in the construction industry himself, said his brother's death had "torn apart" his family.

He said: "Since my brother died, it has opened my eyes. If I see something that I think is going to be dangerous, I will report it straight away.

"For people who have got their own firm, the message is don't cut corners - don't put other people's lives at risk.

"For people who work for the firm: think of your own safety and other people's safety.

"They need to be clamped down on more."

Paul Harvey, the principal inspector for health and safety in Wales, said the campaign would particularly target the refurbishment sector - the upgrading of existing premises - rather than new build construction.

Image caption Paul Alker died several days after falling through the roof of the Comet store in Wrexham

He said: "It can be doing up a house, converting it to flats or refurbishing a factory or school or office.

"In the current economic climate, refurbishment is quite popular as opposed to new build."

Mr Harvey said the quality of the "housekeeping" of a construction sites often gave an indication of how well safety was managed.

He said: "Is the site tidy and well kept? Are nail in bits of wood removed so people don't step on nails?

"A good clean site means that people can move around safely and vehicles can move around safely.

"Good housekeeping results in less accidents. Poor housekeeping results in people falling over things."

Mr Harvey added that inspectors would also ensure jobs involving people working at height were properly planned and had the appropriate precautions in place.

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