Family of death plunge victim must find funeral funds

PUBLISHED: 15:39 07 May 2008 | UPDATED: 11:45 12 August 2010

THE family of an apprentice scaffolder who plunged to his death from a 21ft building are facing thousands in funeral costs after the company said he was not insured.

THE family of an apprentice scaffolder who plunged to his death from a 21ft building are facing thousands in funeral costs after the company said he was not insured.

Sunny Holland, 20, of Molash Road, St Mary Cray, had been working for Andrew Geer Scaffolding Ltd for just eight months before he fell 6.5 metres while working on Whitehall Court in Horse Guards Avenue, Westminster on Thursday, April 24.

He was taken by ambulance to intensive care at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel but was suffering from such severe brain injuries his life support machine was turned off the following day.

Days later, his distraught mother Deborah was told that she would have to pay funeral costs herself because her son was uninsured.

The scaffolding company, based in London Road, West Kingsdown, employ their workers under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) which effectively means they are self-employed and are responsible for their own insurance.

Sunny's aunt, Judith Young, said: "They've told us that he wasn't insured so I have been walking around the streets raising money for his funeral, it is pitiful really.

"Since the accident, the company has not said anything about what actually happened to Sunny and nobody has come round to see us.

"We are so raw and are just trying to take it all in."

Mrs Holland, also mum to two boys, was told of the accident at 11.30am when the secretary of the company came round to her house.

She said: "She told me Sunny's been in an accident and 'let's just say, he's breathing'.

"I went to the hospital where they had hooked him up on a machine in intensive care and were going to do a stem test the next morning, but it came back with nothing."

Her mother, Pat Morris from Orpington, said: "They were like soul mates, her and Sunny. She hasn't come to terms with it mentally, she is in tears all the time.

"He was such a pleasant boy, always stayed out of trouble, everyone loved him. They say there was no insurance but there must be rules and regulations. Someone should have been with him, he shouldn't have been on his own."

A spokesman for the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) said that many companies opt to hire staff under CIS to save paying National Insurance contributions and holiday pay.

He added: "About half of the construction industry hire staff under CIS so if tragedy happen, it can mean that workers are not insured.

"It is a huge problem. We have to deal with this all the time.

"People who are employed under CIS are usually more vulnerable to accidents and even death because work is more casualised and there is not so much of a duty of care to the worker.

"Our advice to all workers working at height is that they should wear a harness at all times."

At the time of going to press, nobody was available for comment from Andrew Geer Scaffolding Ltd.

The Metropolitan Police have confirmed that the accident has been referred to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for investigation and that there have been no arrests in connection with the incident.

Last year, 69 construction staff were killed on site, including 10 in London alone.

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