‘Couldn’t feel my legs’: Tradie paraplegic after workplace fall
ALMOST three years after he shattered his spine and suffered paraplegia in a catastrophic workplace fall, a former Gold Coast tradie is trying to piece his life back together.
Rohan Sills, 29, was in the fourth year of a carpentry apprenticeship on October 20, 2016, dreaming about opening his own business.
The young chippie fell and plunged 3m down a stairwell void at the now-collapsed Cullen Group Australia's City Village construction site at Robina.
Rousing from unconsciousness in a pool of blood, Mr Sills could not feel his legs, but hoped he would be okay once the shock subsided.
"After lunch we were installing some roof trusses on the upper level unit. We were near a stair void. I don't remember too much," he said.
"I came to on the lower level and obviously I was in a bit of shock. Everything was going on pretty quick.
"I knew straight away I couldn't feel my legs. I thought I was in shock and it was something that would come back."
But it was not to be, and Mr Sills has been confined to a wheelchair.
He suffered a fractured skull, sternum and damaged multiple vertebrae.
"It was rough. You don't expect someone to come up and tell you two weeks in you're not going to walk again," Mr Sills said.
"It was pretty heartbreaking. It took me a long time to wrap my head around it. Still wrapping my head around it.
"You have days where it still gets to you."
The Ipswich resident has struggled with his health since the fall and his recovery has been slow, despite supportive family and friends.
He's booked in for another round of surgery and finds it tough to remain upbeat.
"I wasn't so much angry at first. I was just more upset," Mr Sills said.
"But as time went by I did get angry. I had time to reflect on what happened and why it happened.
"I continue to have many health issues and I've spent a lot of the last few years in the hospital, stuck at home resting. Hopefully things will come good."
Mr Sills said his spirits were lifted by a hospital support worker, a "mentor", who reminded him "life is not over and I can make the most of it the best I can".
He hopes to "get on top of this health" and then "find a sport I can really devote myself to".
"I'd love to represent Australia in the Paralympics", he said.
"One thing I've learnt is patience."
Mr Sills urged apprentices to speak up if they don't feel safe at work.
"It doesn't matter what anyone else tells you, if you don't feel safe doing a task then simply refuse and walk away," he said.
"It's not worth risking your life for others to make or save a few extra dollars."
Last month, Cullen Group director Wayne Cullen was found not guilty of failing to comply with workplace health and safety duties.
Southport Magistrates Court was told there was not enough evidence to convict Mr Cullen over Cullen Group's failings.
Compensation Partners Lawyers senior associate Candice Heisler said her firm has been representing Mr Sills in ongoing action against Cullen Group's public liability insurer, among other parties.