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March 13, 2014

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Landlord fined after tenant seriously injured falling through fire escape


A landlord has been fined £13,500 after a man suffered fractured vertebrae when he fell through a faulty fire escape to evade intruders. Following the prosecution the HSE has highlighted duty holder’s responsibilities to maintain emergency access and exits.
Jonathon Hoey, 36, of Tamworth, was left with serious back injuries after falling more than three metres while leaving the Tolson Mill building in Fazeley, Tamworth, on 6 November 2012.
He spent a month in hospital following the incident and had to wear a torso brace to support his back while his injuries healed.
The incident was investigated by the HSE, which yesterday (12 March) prosecuted the mill’s owners, Ashfield Land (Birmingham) Ltd, for safety breaches at Stafford Magistrates’ Court.
HSE identified that the company had failed to maintain the fire escape and, despite being aware of its poor condition for six months, had also failed to ensure it was not accessible until it could be fixed.
The court was told that Mr Hoey rented space for his business on the top floor of the five-storey building.
That evening he was working on his own when he became aware of intruders in the building and decided to use the external fire escape to try to avoid any confrontation.
But as he started to go down the fire escape, the top treads of the cast iron metal staircase collapsed and he fell more than three metres to the flight below.
Mr Hoey was off work for around three months following the fall and had to temporarily close his business. His mobility was seriously limited and he had physiotherapy for six months.
Ashfield Land (Birmingham) Ltd of Berkeley Place, Clifton, Bristol, was fined £13,500 and was told to pay £961 costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4(2) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector David Brassington said: “In not maintaining this external fire escape, Ashfield Land (Birmingham) Ltd seriously failed the people using this building as a place of work.
“Duty holders with the responsibility for the maintenance of workplaces must ensure they are maintained, especially areas used for emergency access and exits.
“Where repairs cannot be made immediately, measures should be taken to prevent access to those areas.
“A fall from height such as this could easily have resulted in a fatal incident.”

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