I was a builder; self-employed doing one-off house extensions. I had quite a nice small business and felt good about life.
Farmers that I had previously done a barn conversion for rang me up one day and asked me to have a look at some sheets on a barn roof that were leaking.
I was busy during the week so I went out on a Saturday morning to have a look at it and decided to go back the following day and work on the lower levels. The sheets were only 12ft high and I felt so comfortable about doing the lower levels.
July 18, 2010. I went out to the property and removed one or two sheets. It started to rain so I came home, which was only four miles away, but then the weather cleared up so I went back to finish off the job.
I can't remember how or what happened but I fell through one of the openings. I assume it was because it was slippery. It was only 12ft, but I fell on a substantial cattle railing. I cracked my head and was knocked unconscious immediately. I was on my own, I had no scaffolding, and I had no duck boards.
"That two minute decision to do something I should not have done is something I have to pay for for the rest of my life"
A lady living in a farm house adjacent to the one I was working on was out walking her dogs and found me. She called the ambulance and I was airlifted to hospital.
I was in a coma for four months. I was never actually told I was paralysed. I think I had to ask the question a couple of times. My wife was told that I was not going to make it; she was told I probably would not be the same man I was before due to brain damage. Fortunately I recovered from that but I can't walk.
When I was in hospital I was unable to get in and out of bed by myself and had to use a hoist. The first time the nurses took me to have a shower I was laid out on a rubber bed and then it hit me - my dignity had gone.
It was a very frightening time. We did not have any money coming in for four months so everything we had had gone. Fortunately we had support from family and friends.
I miss everything that I used to be able to do, all the physical stuff. Even being able to walk the dogs or watching my wife take the bins out - I miss it dreadfully.
That two minute decision to do something I should not have done is something I have to pay for for the rest of my life.
I could have prevented that accident. I understand health and safety; I was an employer. I don't know why I didn't but I should have said "I'm not going to do the job until we have got x, y and z" and if they did not want me to do it in that manner then I should not have done the job.
Everything I know about health and safety I did wrong that day. I made a terrible mistake and I have to live with the consequences of that and so do my family.
Your wellbeing, your health and safety is in your own hands. Work safe, go home safe.
Paul was named an Archangel, the highest honour in the RoSPA Guardian Angel Awards scheme, in 2015.
The inspirational speaker now uses his experience of a life-changing workplace accident to prevent the same happening to others. He can be booked for talks at www.lifeafteranaccident.co.uk.
Posted: 5/26/2016 3:06:38 PM