The family of the construction worker who died after he was shocked and fell off of a three-storey building, believes that his death could have been avoided if workers’ safety was taken seriously.
Matthew Adams, 31, of Lot 75 Block ‘E’, South Sophia, was working on top of a building at Diamond, East Bank Demerara, early Saturday morning when the incident occurred. While it was reported that it was Adams’ first day on the job, his sister Kathrine Adams explained to Stabroek News yesterday that he had been in construction for more than three years and it was his third day working on the building in Diamond.
Kathrine related that while she is not home during evening as she works the night shift, she had seen the man several days ago. His nephew explained to Stabroek News that he had talked to the man the same morning. “He was good and was making jokes as per normal you know, is just sad,” he said.
The woman explained that from what was related to her, Adams was on the roof of the building placing a sign when he decided to move parts of the metal scaffold that was around the building. “About couple feet above the scaffold they had the GPL power lines and what I hear is that when he picked up the piece that was long and he turn to move it touch the wire and he get shock up and fall off the building,” Kathrine recalled.
She said that after Adams fell to the ground, motionless in a pool of blood, it was about 10 minutes after that his coworkers and other persons rushed him to the hospital. “I wasn’t there but I hear the owners of the building didn’t even do anything when they come out and see he on the ground,” the woman related.
However, the family explained that their main concerns were why Adams was not properly equipped to work on the roof and why electricity was still running through the wires even though the construction was happening so close to them.
“He wasn’t wearing any gloves because when we see the body all his hands were burned and his pants. He didn’t have any helmet and the doctor said he suffered from a fractured skull,” his sister explained. She posited that if the man had been properly equipped with safety gear then the tragedy could have been avoided.
“Well if he was wearing gloves then all of this wouldn’t have happen you know. And if he had on a helmet at least even if the electricity didn’t kill he when he fell off the building then the helmet or other safety gears could’ve at least protect he a little,” the woman said.
She pointed out that in addition to the lack of safety gear, electricity should not have been running through the wires while there was construction going on nearby. “It don’t make any sense that you doing all this construction so high and these wires mere feet away from it, it don’t make sense at all,” she contended.
The woman added that when they visited the scene, even the scaffolding was shaky and didn’t seem as if it was properly stabilised.
Another one of the man’s relatives said that the persons in charge should be held accountable if workers are not properly equipped.
The relative also pointed out that there is a dire need for neutral persons to supervise and make checks on construction sites to ensure that the contractors and other persons in charge are following safety rules.
“As far as I know nobody never went there and check and these are the things we need to see in this country. Is nuff time around the place you does see these men climbing heights without a harness and any other safety gears and it needs to be changed,” he said, stating that the safety of workers needs to be taken more seriously around the country.
“This is not the first time somebody fall off a roof or somebody get electrocuted but it could be the last time if these people equip their workers properly,” the man argued.
The police are currently investigating the incident.
There have been several other cases this year of construction workers being shocked on top of roofs and falling to their death. Questions have been raised about what the Department of Labour in the Ministry of Social Protection has been doing about these fatal incidents.