His employer has now been fined £12,500 for breaching the Work at Height Regulations.
Colin Shields, 34, was standing on top of the gritter at Inex Works Ltd’s premises in a bid to help his colleagues dislodge compacted grit salt from inside the machine when the incident happened on 28 December 2010.
Airdrie Sheriff Court heard yesterday (10th June) that Mr Shields, a father of two and company secretary at the firm at the date of the incident, suffered irreversible damage to his spine as a result of the fall. He is now paralysed from the neck down.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) revealed failures in the company’s management of safety.
At the time of the incident the company operated from a yard in Garrell Road, Burnside Industrial Estate, Kilsyth. When Mr Shields returned to the yard following a gritting job in Blackford, Perthshire, he saw three of his colleagues clearing grit salt from the chute, spreader and gritter box on the gritter vehicle and offered to assist.
He climbed the ladder at the back of the vehicle to gain access to the top of the gritter body. As he moved towards the rear of the vehicle to get a pole to help him dislodge the salt, his foot slipped and he fell head first onto the ground.
His fellow workers raised the alarm and he was rushed to hospital but was found to have sustained several fractures of his spine, leaving him paralysed. He was in hospital for seven months.
His second daughter was born four weeks after the fall.
HSE Inspectors found that Inex Works had failed to take sufficient measures to prevent falls where work was being carried out at height. The method used by its employees was unsafe as the gritter was not designed with a working platform, walkway or hand rails and Mr Shields was not wearing a harness or restraint to prevent him from falling.
Inex Works Ltd, of St Vincent Street, Glasgow, was fined £13,500 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.