Jason Anker made the plea to nearly 400 construction bosses and self-employed workers at a free event at Haydock Park Racecourse in Newton-le-Willows. Specialists from the construction industry and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) were also on hand to give the latest safety advice.
Jason was paralysed at the age of 24 while working for a small roofing firm in the Midlands. He was climbing down a ladder after carrying out repairs to a flat roof when the ladder slipped, and he fell ten feet to the ground below.
Jason, now aged 43, said: “The job had overrun so we were rushing to finish it quickly which meant risks were taken. The ladder I used was not tied to the building and slipped away as I was climbing back down.
“I remember I could not feel my legs when I was lying on the ground and the doctors basically ended up telling me I would never walk again. I was absolutely devastated. I just thought something like that would never happen to me.
“I think there is a temptation for small construction firms to take risks if they have got a deadline to meet, and another job to get to. But it’s important they take on board that what happened to me could happen to their employees as well.”
A total of 42 construction workers were killed while at work in 2009/10, accounting for more than a quarter of all workplace deaths. More than 3,000 also suffered major injuries.
As well as safe work at height, the safety event at Haydock Park Racecourse also included practical demonstrations on harness safety, asbestos and other dust-related diseases, power tool vibration injuries and working in confined spaces.
Mike Cross, HSE’s Head of Construction in the North West, said: “It is vital we are able to get the message out to small construction firms that the risks their workers face are real, and it is great that Jason was able to help us do that at the Haydock event.
“If the ladder he was using had been tied to the building then it is unlikely he would have fallen. It would have taken just a few minutes to do this and would have meant Jason would still be able to walk today.
“We hope construction bosses and self-employed workers will continue to come to free events, like the one at Haydock, and take advantage of the advice available to make sure they stay safe.”
The free safety event at Haydock Park Racecourse on 15 September was held as part of the Working Well Together initiative – a partnership between the HSE and the construction industry – which aims to improve health and safety in the sector.