As a building contractor, David Crawford was acutely aware of the dangers associated with working at height but he never used fall protection. Everything changed on 10th April 1991 when he fell 4.8 metres from the roof he was building that day, resulting in life-altering consequences.
Crawford began work on this particular project after being assured about the integrity of the structure. To address concerns about the safety aspect in the weeks leading up to his accident, he had sought advice from the architect and engineer, following which a review of the design and drawings was done and he was given the go-ahead about the adequacy of the roof fixing and structure. Additionally, he was under pressure to deliver since there was a large increase in his business’ workload.
About two to three weeks into the project, Crawford was working on the roof section when it collapsed and he fell, injuring himself so badly that he became a quadriplegic from the trauma to his spine. After nine months in hospital, he returned home to the prospect of a totally different future.
However, Crawford turned his adversity into an opportunity to introduce changes to the regulations governing the working at height industry. He began by initiating legal proceedings to bring about changes to the Workers Compensation laws for subcontractors. Another court case with Workcover NSW resulted in the architect, engineer and builder being found liable for his accident. This ruling also found that there was blame on David's side since it was his decision to proceed with the work.
His legal efforts bore fruit in 1997 when Workcover NSW initiated changes to the legislation and requirements for those working at heights.
"If you are the owner of a business and you have apprentices and trainees on your site, it is up to you to show them the use of the codes and the regulations that are in place to make sure they go home at the end of the day," Crawford observed.
Crawford has made it his life’s mission to educate and inform workers of the dangers of working at height and the consequences of not using fall protection equipment. With his passion for workplace safety, he became a member of the Teamsafe Organisation and conducted presentations at workplaces throughout Australia.
Despite his ill-health, Crawford continues to spread the word about the importance of safety when working at height. His story (as well as the experiences of many like him) is the reason Sayfa Group is passionate about height safety, inspiring the company to introduce newer innovations in fall prevention systems.