Tom Smith, 63, from Lisbaby, Headford, Killarney, Co Kerry, was working on the house near Cullen, Mallow, in Co Cork on April 17 last when the accident occurred.
Cork Coroner’s Court was told yesterday that Mr Smith was standing on a scaffold above a temporary stairs to prepare a wall for plastering.
The scaffold comprised a 17ft-long six-inch wide plank of wood — one end resting on the landing, with the other end on a ladder, which was leaning against the wall at the bottom of the stairs. But the plank snapped and Mr Smith crashed to the ground, suffering severe trauma to the back of his head.
He was rushed to Cork University Hospital, but died the next day.
Plumber William O’Connor said he called to the building site at about 10.30am to check pipes and saw Mr Smith working on the house alone. He was the last person to see him before the accident.
Mr Smith’s wife, Catherine, told deputy coroner Philip Comyns that she rang her husband’s mobile phone at 12.15pm and 12.30pm, but got no answer.
She became concerned and went to the building site just before 1pm and found her husband lying in the hallway and raised the alarm.
Mr Smith was taken by Millstreet ambulance to hospital and paramedics requested a medical intercept on the way.
Emergency department consultant Stephen Cusack met the ambulance on the road but despite frantic efforts to save him, Mr Smith lapsed into a coma and never recovered. He died the following day.
The cause of death was recorded as severe brain swelling consistent with a fall on the back of the head.
Crime examiner Garda Pat Roche said it appeared there was a weakness in the plank of wood on which Mr Smith was standing and it was most likely that it snapped, causing the accident.
Mr Comyns recorded a verdict of accidental death.