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Property owner sentenced after builder suffered life changing injuries

A Derbyshire property owner has been given a community order after a father-of-two sustained life-changing injuries when a wall collapsed on top of him during a barn conversion.

Nigel Edwards failed to have a structural assessment of the outbuildings carried out as part of his planning for the project at his home in Woodhouses.

The outbuildings were being converted into holiday let accommodation when a stone wall collapsed on 40-year-old Steven Tyson on 8 October 2021.

The married father of two daughters from Melbourne suffered a catalogue of serious injuries, including a fractured skull, a bleed on the brain and multiple broken bones, including 11 of his ribs. He was rushed to hospital, where he spent the next 18 days in “immense pain”.

He said: “The pain was made worse by the fact I was unable to see my daughters in hospital due to the Covid-19 restrictions on visitors.

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“I am still in pain today and struggle to put weight on my right ankle.

“Due to the traumatic head injury, I was unable to drive for six months.”

Derby Magistrates Court heard how the building had undergone significant structural alterations. It was while Mr Tyson was clearing up outside, that the external face of the stone gable wall collapsed on top of him causing life-threatening injuries.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Nigel Edwards had failed to have a structural assessment of the outbuildings undertaken prior to starting the work. As a result, no measures had been identified or implemented to stabilise the building while undergoing the alteration. Similarly, there was no plan in place for dismantling parts of the building safely, exposing workers and members of the public to the risk of injury or death from the full or partial collapse of the structures.

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Mr Tyson, who has been left blind in one eye as well as losing hearing in his right ear, went on to say how the incident had left him unable to work in the construction industry.

“I might never be able to,” he added.

“The injuries have also impacted my hobbies, which included karate, dog walking and metal detecting.

“I have also had therapy sessions to try and come to terms with the physical and psychological impacts of what happened.

“This is something I thought I would never have to do.”

Nigel Edwards of Tutholme, Woodhouses, Melbourne, Derbyshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 19(1) and 20(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. He was made the subject of a 12-month community order and told to complete 80 hours of unpaid work. He must also pay costs of £4,097.94.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Robert Gidman said: “It is vital that all demolition and dismantling is adequately planned and that a competent structural engineer is engaged by those in control of work where there is the risk of collapse of any structure.

“If this project had been planned effectively, engaging the right people at the right time to ensure a suitable safe system of work was implemented, the life changing injuries sustained by the injured person could have been prevented.”

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