For three decades, Ross Phillips worked as a labourer and demolition worker on sites across Melbourne. It all changed in late 2014. The Craigieburn father of three’s ability to do his job was swiftly taken away in the cruellest of workplace accidents.
On September 13, 2014 while working for PPK Demolition, Mr Phillips was on a scissor lift – eight metres above the ground – removing ceiling panels at a warehouse in Airport West.
One of the three-metre panels fell, knocking the scissor lift over, throwing Mr Phillips to the concrete ground below resulting in a list of permanent injuries.
He suffered severe spinal injuries (including vertebrae fractures), head injuries, hearing loss and tinnitus in his left ear, damage to his right knee, right shoulder and neck, carpel tunnel syndrome, scarring and disfigurement.
He has also suffered depression, stress and anxiety as a direct result of the trauma experienced. His 19 year old son was working at the same site that day, and when he went over to see his father, he thought he was dead. Mr Phillips was millimetres away from being a paraplegic.
Mr Phillips, who can only walk with the aid of a walking stick, is now unable to work despite intending to be employed for another two decades.
“It’s easy to think that a workplace accident won’t happen to you and I never once imagined that I would be in the position where I couldn’t work,” Mr Phillips said.
“There’s nothing more important than a safe work site. I should never have been put in the situation that I was in and now me and my family living with the consequences,” added Mr Phillips.
The lack of earning has made it difficult for him to support his family and has been robbed of his opportunity to enjoy life as well as more than 20 years of his working life because of the accident.