Broken leg worker feared for his job after falling at Ironbridge Power Station, inquest told

An inquest jury has heard from more witnesses as they try to get to the bottom of what caused an experienced worker to break his leg in an accident during demolition of Ironbridge Power Station.

Ironbridge Power Station's cooling towers before their demolition
Ironbridge Power Station's cooling towers before their demolition

Paul Alexander Wilson, aged 51, was taken by ambulance to Royal Shrewsbury Hospital on the morning of Sunday, February 14, 2021, following the accident at the site at Buildwas.

Mr Wilson, from Rugeley, in Staffordshire, had an operation on his right tibia and tested positive for Covid before his condition deteriorated. He was taken to intensive care and died on March 4, 2021. The cause of his death has been given as pulmonary thrombo embolism and Covid.

Scott Underwood, of Omega Environmental Services, had placed Mr Wilson on furlough during the Covid lockdown, the inquest heard. But he had agreed that he could work for Demolition Services Limited (DSL) on a project to remove asbestos from the car park underneath the admin block during the demolition of the power station at Buildwas.

Mr Underwood told the second day of the inquest on Tuesday that his employee was thorough and very particular and "very good at his job", was fully qualified and aware of all health and safety requirements.

"Paul phoned me from hospital," said Mr Underwood. "He was concerned he was going to lose his job due to having the accident."

Mr Wilson had been working with Robert Lynn on the process of taking polythene sheets down following the removal of asbestos.

"He said he had been working on a scaffolding tower that wasn't really fit for use. He said it was incomplete without outriggers (stabilisers) or railings," said Mr Underwood.

"He had heard someone shouting for him, that somebody was on site. He said when he was making his descent through the middle of the tower he lost his footing, the tower tilted, and he could not get his footing back and fell."

Previously the inquest had been told that Mr Wilson might have caught his foot in a hole or twisted in some way. The hearing has also been told that both possible accounts could explain the injury Mr Wilson suffered on his leg.

Peter Smith, representing DSL, challenged Mr Underwood on the nature of the relationship between Omega and DSL, asking him whether they were competitor companies. He said Mr Underwood had lost out on a contract for asbestos removal against DSL.

Mr Underwood denied that they were in competition and said DSL and Omega were involved in "completely different work".

John Ellery, Senior Shropshire & Telford Coroner, brought the discussion to a conclusion by ruling that the introduction of an issue of competition was "speculative and without foundation".

Benjamin Thompson, an asbestos supervisor for DSL said Mr Wilson "just said he had gone over on his leg".

He said that to take down the sheeting someone would need to have been on the scaffold tower. But witnesses differed in their recollections of how far the tower was from Mr Wilson when they saw him propped up and covered in colleagues' coats to keep warm.

Another witness introduced the possible use of a "pop up" scaffold, or a set of steps.

Mr Thompson said he thought the injury was caused by "more than tripping over". But the coroner reminded the jurors that this was a non-medical opinion.

Matthew Harker, contracts manager for DSL, who took photos of the scene soon after the accident, that "nobody mentioned the tower". He said he was told that Mr Wilson had twisted while trying to pick something off the floor.

The hearing continues

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