Wall collapse during stone barn conversion leaves man deaf in one ear and blind in one eye

Steven Tyson injured when wall collapsed on him

Steven Tyson suffered multiple broken bones, including a fractured skull, when a wall collapsed on him during a barn conversion.

While an old stone barn in Derbyshire was being converted into a holiday let a wall collapsed on a man involved in the work leaving him blind in one eye and deaf in one ear. He suffered a fractured skull, a bleed on the brain and multiple broken bones, including 11 of his ribs.

The barn after the wall collapsed
The barn after the wall collapsed. Photo: HSE

As a result, Derbyshire property owner Nigel Edwards of Tutholme, Woodhouses, Melbourne, Derbyshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 19(1) and 20(1) of the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 when he appeared before Derby Magistrates Court on 22 March. A 12-month community order requires him to complete 80 hours unpaid work. He must also pay costs of £4,097.94.

The injured man is 40-year-old Steven Tyson, who lives in Melbourne and is married with two daughters. He was rushed to hospital after the incident in October 2021 and spent 18 days in “immense pain”.

He said: “The pain was made worse by the fact I was unable to see my daughters in hospital due to the Covid-19 restrictions on visitors. I am still in pain today and struggle to put weight on my right ankle.

“Due to the traumatic head injury, I was unable to drive for six months.”

Derby Magistrates Court heard how the building had undergone significant structural alterations. It was while Mr Tyson was clearing up outside that the external face of the stone gable wall collapsed on top of him, causing the injuries.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that Nigel Edwards had failed to have a structural assessment of the outbuildings undertaken prior to starting the work. As a result, no measures had been identified or implemented to stabilise the building while it underwent the alterations. Neither was there a plan in place for dismantling parts of the building safely, exposing workers and members of the public to the risk of injury or death from the full or partial collapse of the structures.

Mr Tyson explained how the incident left him unable to work in the construction industry. “I might never be able to,” he said. “The injuries have also impacted on my hobbies, which included karate, dog walking and metal detecting.

“I have also had therapy sessions to try and come to terms with the physical and psychological impacts of what happened. This is something I thought I would never have to do.”

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Robert Gidman said: “It is vital that all demolition and dismantling is adequately planned and that a competent structural engineer is engaged by those in control of work where there is the risk of collapse of any structure.

“If this project had been planned effectively, engaging the right people at the right time to ensure a suitable safe system of work was implemented, the life changing injuries sustained by the injured person could have been prevented.”