I was working as a solid fuel heating engineer and the company I was employed with also specialised in roofing, so 95 per cent of my work was at height.
I wasn't keen on how the company was run but at the time there weren't many jobs out there so I stuck with it.
I had asked my boss for a safety harness when working at height but was told that they had a special dispensation that allowed staff to work at height without a safety harness, which I later found out wasn't true.
On June 20, 2011, I went into work as normal and my boss asked me to do some chimney sweeping.
I got to my sixth job of the day, which was at a two-storey house in Falkirk, went up on to the chimney stack and stepped off the ladder to sweep the chimney. I was taking the last chimney rod off when the stack broke causing me to slip and fall head first, landing on the roof. I then slid down the pitch of the roof, off the edge and fell 33ft before landing on a garden wall.
My first thought was that I was going to die
My first thought was that I was going to die. I was still conscious but it was going through my mind that I only had a couple of minutes to live because I was struggling to breathe. I remember thinking that if I was going to die it would be a good day for it because it was sunny.
One of my colleagues came running out and phoned an ambulance. Paramedics worked on me for 45 minutes before taking me to hospital. I suffered a broken pelvis, ribs and a punctured lung. I've also been left with bladder problems and am 40 per cent disabled, which means I have to use crutches to walk most of the time due to chronic pain. I have also got back problems.
I'm still on a lot of medication for the pain. On a good day I can take up to 13 pills and 24 on a bad day. It's horrible.
It has really affected my life. I stopped going out. I used to go to the gym and I can't do that anymore. Everything has changed, from socialising with friends to going on holiday. My girlfriend left me when I stopped leaving the house. All parts of my life were affected. It's not nice. It's like you have lost all control of your life.
My benefit money was stopped six months after the accident but I was unable to return to work due to my injuries so I had nothing. During that time I lived at my parents' house. If it hadn't been for them I would have ended up on the streets. I spent Christmas and New Year of that year without anything. It was just horrible. It was so depressing. I also suffered post traumatic stress disorder due to all the flashbacks I was getting.
I'm glad that I didn't have a family to look after because if I did I would have ruined their lives. My parents had to support me financially and at times I would take my moods out on them when I was having a bad day.
The firm was fined £20,000 and eventually closed. Around eight or nine of my colleagues were left out of work, which is another knock-on-effect of the accident.
My advice to anybody is that when you get that gut feeling, act on it. We all get that sixth sense in our mind that tells us "this isn't right". I had it that day but I put money first. Take five seconds and if it still doesn't feel right don't do it. It's not just your life; it's your family's too. That's the best advice I can give.
Dylan Skelhorn now works as a motivational safety speaker giving talks to industry about his life before his accident, the accident itself and the effect it has had on his family, friends and work colleagues.
For more information or to book Dylan for talks visit www.safetyup.co.uk.
Posted: 7/27/2016 1:51:08 PM