Floyd Simmonds, one of the 20 men injured after falling off a scaffold at the Customs and Excise Building, Richmond Street last Wednesday, said yesterday he hoped to give his side of the story to investigators examining the cause of the accident.
“If they don’t talk to us, they haven’t finished the investigation,” Simmonds told Newsday in an interview at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital. Simmonds, 47, along with four other men remain hospitalised for their injuries.
It was last Wednesday that Simmonds said he and the other workers were installing a glass pane when the scaffold collapsed beneath them. He recalled, “I was flying through the air with materials. I was only hoping not to die. When I hit the ground, I saw I was alive. I tried to walk, then I saw my legs were twisted and blood was gushing.” Simmonds said two co-workers picked him up and told him not to look at his leg.
Simmonds’ left leg was amputated last week, and pins are holding the bone in the right calf together. He said the Health and Safety officer for the construction site visited the injured workers on Tuesday offering sympathy, but he expressed his anger at the way the accident happened. He told the Safety officer, “I say watch you, all the boots and helmets you were interested in and you were not studying the scaffolding! Look we nearly died. I lost my leg.”
Simmonds, an employee for four months with Movalite said he and other workers had told their boss that the scaffold was shaking. They were advised to inform the Health and Safety officer. “Once or twice they checked it but that scaffolding is supposed to be checked every day. We always complained. Every time we go on the scaffold it shaking.”
Simmonds said when workers complained, they were told that the scaffold would be checked.
The injured workers are still getting their salaries but Simmonds said he wants to be properly compensated for losing his leg. He would like to walk again and hopes to get a prosthetic limb.
He said, “I really, really want to get over this.”
Although the Occupational Safety and Health Act is in effect, Simmonds said workers who want to keep their jobs do not complain much. He said, “When you complain to bosses about a problem they prefer to fire you and get somebody else.”
Simmonds said he read in the newspapers that workers are supposed to look out for their own safety but he said those who spoke out would be fired and told that other workers would be hired.
While describing the amputation of his leg as a “big loss,” he said his inner strength helped him through.
Another patient, 33-year-old Hayden Peters, said his condition was improving. He broke his right leg, and injured his left shoulder. He has minor facial injuries. Peters said no time frame was given when he and the other workers would be discharged from hospital.