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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
July 29, 2011

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School learns lessons from worker’s loft fall

An independent school in Cambridgeshire has admitted work-at-height failings after a teenage worker fell through a loft and landed in a swimming-pool changing room.

Huntingdon Magistrates’ court heard that pool-attendant Stacey Paine, 19, and the swimming-pool manager were searching for paperwork in the loft when the incident took place at Kimbolton School, near Huntingdon, on 20 April 2010.

Ms Paine was walking across a roof beam when she lost her balance and stepped on to the fragile part of the roof, which gave way. She fell 2.5 metres to the tiled floor below, narrowly missing a tiled bench. She suffered a fractured wrist but nobody else was injured, as the changing room was empty.

HSE Inspector Stephen Faulkner told SHP that the school had failed to carry out a risk assessment to identify the dangers of workers entering the loft, and to ensure that staff didn’t step on the fragile surfaces. He said: “The outcome of this incident could have been very different. Falling from height, particularly on to such a hard surface, often results in severe injuries, or even death. It is an employer’s duty to ensure the safety of all staff and anyone working at height needs to be protected.

“In this case, the documents could have been stored somewhere easier to reach and if a simple risk assessment had been carried out, this would have been identified. I urge any organisation to consider where they store items, including paperwork, and how safe it is for an employee to access.”

Kimbolton School appeared in court on 26 July and pleaded guilty to breaching reg. 9(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined £8000 and ordered to pay costs of £2276.

In mitigation, the company said it had a good health and safety record and had no previous convictions. It told the court that it didn’t carry out a risk assessment as it was not aware that staff were using the loft as a storage area. It has subsequently put a lock on the loft hatch to prevent workers from being able to access it. The company has also removed all storage items from the loft.

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12 years ago

Surely there is also the question of excessive fire loading that should have been considered, was there any comment on the annual review of the Fire R.A. a sregards this area being used to store paperwork?