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SCHOOL PROSECUTED OVER FALL DURING REFURB JOB

Recladding kitchen exterior by caretaker ended in fall from platform

Shenfield High School in Essex has been prosecuted after a caretaker fell from height whilst recladding the outside of the kitchen building on 28 July 2010.

The 54-year-old man was working with a colleague on an unguarded work platform when he lost his footing and fell 1.9 metres to the ground. He broke two ribs and needed a three-inch metal plate and multiple metal screws inserted into a broken arm.

Chelmsford Magistrates heard that Shenfield High School failed to take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent an employee failing from height while carrying out work.

Appropriate working platform required

Shenfield High School Alexander Lane, Shenfield, Brentwood, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £6,500 and ordered to pay costs of £2,243.85.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Corinne Godfrey said:

“As falling from height often results in severe injury or death, the outcome of this incident could have been much worse.

However, it could have been avoided altogether if an appropriate work platform had been provided by Mr Springett’s employers. The school has a duty to protect its staff and working at height brings with it risks they should be aware of, and protect against.”

Comment

The recladding of a building is perhaps beyond the capabilities of a school ‘caretaker’ and more appropriately carried out by a competent contractor?

The continuing move towards greater autonomy and independance from local authority control may lead to a rise in such incidents as schools look to manage building maintenance budgets.

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