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Roofer died in fall after builder did not pay for extra scaffolding

Extra.ie logo Extra.ie 25/09/2021 Sean McCarthaigh
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A construction worker fell to his death from scaffolding which was erected by unqualified tradesmen, an inquest in Dublin has heard.

Andrezej Buraczewski, who worked as a roofer, died on October 24, 2016 as a result of an eight-metre fall from the fourth floor of a scaffolding structure at a house on Highfield Road, Rathgar, Dublin.

Mr Buraczewski, 45, was pronounced dead at the scene. The inquest at Dublin District Coroner’s Court heard evidence that the scaffolding was non-compliant with building regulations.

Andrezej Buraczewski, who worked as a roofer, died on October 24, 2016 as a result of an eight-metre fall from the fourth floor of a scaffolding structure at a house – stock image of scaffolding. Pic Getty © Provided by Extra.ie Andrezej Buraczewski, who worked as a roofer, died on October 24, 2016 as a result of an eight-metre fall from the fourth floor of a scaffolding structure at a house – stock image of scaffolding. Pic Getty

An inspector from the Health and Safety Authority, Frank Kerins, said the construction project on the house was being overseen by GC Construction and the company’s owner, Colin Wendel.

Mr Kerins said three storeys of scaffolding had been safely erected by a scaffolding firm, Diamond Scaffolding, but during the course of the work it had become necessary to add another level of scaffolding to allow workers to reach the roof of the building.

The inquest heard a price had been quoted for the cost of the additional scaffolding but that it had ultimately been done by unqualified workers from GC Construction who used pieces of scaffolding from the lower levels.

At a hearing before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in April, Mr Wendel was fined €5,000 and another of his companies, Colin Wendel Developments, fined €40,000 after they each pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to ensure an employee was not exposed to risk.Pic Collins Courts © Provided by Extra.ie At a hearing before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in April, Mr Wendel was fined €5,000 and another of his companies, Colin Wendel Developments, fined €40,000 after they each pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to ensure an employee was not exposed to risk.Pic Collins Courts

Mr Kerins said such work was in breach of legislation governing health and safety in the workplace. He remarked that GC Construction staff had lots of skills ‘but they did not have qualifications in erecting scaffolding’.

He acknowledged that other construction workers had used the fourth level of scaffolding on the previous two working days before the fatal accident and had not reported any problem with the structure. The HSA inspector also accepted that there was ‘no obvious flaw’ with the additional scaffolding.

However, Mr Kerins said an examination of the site showed a 3.5ft piece of a ‘pigtail’ tube, which had been found beside Mr Buraczewski’s body, had been used incorrectly as a guard rail on the scaffolding. He guessed that the deceased had leaned against the scaffolding and it came down with him.

Dr Myra Cullinane presided over the inquest © Provided by Extra.ie Dr Myra Cullinane presided over the inquest

Mr Kerins admitted it was a mystery how one of the dead man’s boots was found on the roof of an adjoining building. Under questioning by the coroner, Dr Myra Cullinane, Mr Kerins said it was reasonable for workers arriving on a building site to assume a mandatory safety notice stating the scaffolding was safe to use applied to the entire structure, even though that was not the case with the house on Highfield Road.

The inquest heard the dead man had only begun working on the site for the first time on the day of the accident for building firm, OCC Building Services. His work colleague, Mariusz Pluta, said he was working on a separate side of the building when he heard a noise that sounded like a plank falling on the scaffolding.

He was later shocked to find Mr Buraczewski on the ground with blood coming from his mouth. The inquest heard efforts to resuscitate the injured man were unsuccessful. A post mortem report found that Mr Buraczewski, a married man from Whitefields, Station Road, Portarlington, Co. Laois, died from blood loss due to multiple fractures including his skull and ribs.

A jury of five men and two women returned a narrative verdict which found that he died as a result of a fall from scaffolding that was not in line with building regulations. The jury recommended that safety notices be erected on all levels of scaffolding in future.

The coroner said she would notify the relevant authorities of the jury’s recommendation. At a hearing before Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in April, Mr Wendel, 38, of Patrician Villas, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin was fined €5,000 and another of his companies, Colin Wendel Developments, fined €40,000 after they each pleaded guilty to a single charge of failing to ensure an employee was not exposed to risk.

Mr Wendel also brought €20,000 of his personal money to court to give to Mr Buraczewski’s widow and family

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