Company fined £25,000 after Eastbourne man’s lift shaft accident

David Homewood who broke his back, when he fell down a lift shaft.
David Homewood who broke his back, when he fell down a lift shaft.

A CONSTRUCTION company has been fined £25,000 after a man plunged six metres down a lift shaft and fractured his spine.

David Homewood (pictured), of Homewood Close, Eastbourne, was carrying a kitchen unit up a flight of stairs in a new block of flats when he backed into an empty shaft, plummeting two floors down.

He broke his spine, fractured his pelvis, ruptured his aorta and bruised his lungs.

Mr Homewood, 54, was in intensive care for six days and was laid up in a hospital bed for four weeks.

He said, “I think my brain shut down. I don’t remember it quite frankly. I remember thinking where’s the floor? But it all happens in an instant.

“I’ve no recollection of landing at the bottom – perhaps it’s just as well.”

He was forced to give up work at home improvement firm Russ Deacon in Seaside because of his crippling injuries. He can no longer lift heavy items after his fall on November 3, 2009 in Brighton.

“I’m alive, that’s the main thing. I keep saying this to myself, ‘I could be in a box or a wheelchair’,” said Mr Homewood.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Brighton Construction Ltd at Lewes Crown Court for not managing the construction site properly. It emerged the building firm had been told by HSE to seal off the danger area five months before Mr Homewood’s accident.

The construction company pleaded guilty to breaching building regulations, and was fined £25,000 and ordered to pay £15,000 in costs in court on March 3. Mr Homewood said he had not received any compensation but was in discussion with his solicitors.

Amanda Huff, HSE inspector, said, “Mr Homewood has suffered life-changing injuries because simple measures were not taken to ensure the lift shaft was guarded at all times.”

Mr Homewood has been left with a slight limp but does not qualify for incapacity benefit and has decided to retire and spend time on his hobbies.

He has a small workshop at the bottom of his garden where he repairs phonographs and gramophones.