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COUNCIL FAILED TO PREVENT FALL THROUGH CEILING

Fitting lightbulb for safety sends workman to floor and Council into court 

Bradford Council has been fined for breaching safety regulations after a school caretaker was left with permanent disabilities when he fell through a school hall ceiling causing “permanent disabilities” in June 2011.

David O’Hanlon, aged 62, was fitting a new light bulb in the roof void of the old Beckfoot School in Bingley and in doing so he stepped on an unboarded area and and fell 4m through the ceiling into the hall below fracturing his hip and heel. 

The school had closed and Mr O’Hanlon was supervising clearance of the building and classrooms. He went to insert a light bulb in a roof void “so he could work safely”. 

Sensible decision would have been to “leave well alone”

Bradford Council pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to ensure the safety of an employee working at height and with fragile surfaces. The council was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £5,667 in costs.

After the hearing HSE Inspector Morag Irwin said:

“This incident was completely avoidable and has essentially dashed Mr O’Hanlon’s hopes and expectations for a healthy retirement.

Bradford Council has a duty to fully assess the risks in a building and ensure its employees are safe as they go about their day-to-day duties. That may mean providing necessary information or training when necessary – in this case relating to working at heights and risk assessment.

Given that the main purpose was to clear out rubbish before demolition, the sensible decision would have been to leave well alone in the roof void and let the demolition go ahead regardless.

Work at height remains one of the most significant causes of fatalities and major injuries among employees.”

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