Glasgow & West Scotland

Roof fall man Ronald Hill awarded £1.5m damages

A workman who was left almost paralysed after falling from a ladder has been awarded £1,495,200 damages.

Ronald Hill suffered head injuries in the accident, while he was foreman of a squad that was stripping and re-tiling a roof in Coatbridge in October 2008.

At the Court of Session in Edinburgh, contractor Norside Ltd of Glasgow was found to be liable.

In her judgement, judge Lady Dorrian said she thought Mr Hill was 20% to blame for the accident.

The court heard that Mr Hill had 40 years experience and had attended training courses in the use of ladders.

Fixed ladder

Workmates said he had a good attitude to health and safety and often spotted defects.

On a previous job he had refused to let his squad work because of poor conditions - even though they were docked pay as a result.

On the day of the accident, Norside had not provided a fixed ladder at the site because of previous problems with children and vandals climbing onto the scaffold.

The portable ladder used should have been tied securely in place.

One of Mr Hill's workmates did not think the ladder was tied when they went onto the scaffold that morning.

Mr Hill's son, also Ronald Hill, who worked in his father's squad, said he could not remember.

The court heard that it was a wet and windy day. A delivery of materials arrived while the men were on the roof and Mr Hill senior went down on his own to check it.

Safety failure

Soon afterwards he fell from the ladder, suffering head injuries which left him virtually paralysed.

Mr Hill claimed he always tied the ladder, using a blue strap which was left looped round the scaffold.

In a written ruling, Lady Dorrian said the firm had clearly given no thought at all about how workmen might gain access to scaffold erected at the site.

Once the men were given a portable ladder there was no proper plan or safe system for its use.

Lady Dorrian said Norside could not show the strapping was available and Mr Hill should be given the benefit of the doubt.

Both sides in the dispute had agreed on a figure for damages but Norside disputed liability.

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