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DEFENDANT CRITICISED FOR BLAMING OWN ENGINEERS

Telecom giant fined £500,000 after 7m fall from height

British Telecom plc (BT) has been fined £500,000 after an engineer fell 7m from a loft in London in May 2011.

The Old Bailey heard how a BT engineer, David Spurgeon, was fixing a telephone fault in the roof void of a residential block of flats in Tower Hamlets, East London.

Mr Spurgeon was working alone when he lost his balance and fell through the ceiling, landing on a concrete stairwell, sustaining his serious injuries.

HSE investigators found there were a number of “management failures” by BT, including inadequate planning of work taking place near fragile surfaces and checking that the work was carried out safely.

Blaming engineers unnecessary, misplaced and unfortunate

British Telecom plc, of London, was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Safety and Health at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay costs of £98,913.51.

In his sentencing remarks the judge criticised BT for attempting to blame its own engineers for the incident. He described their approach as being ‘not necessary, misplaced and unfortunate’ .

HSE inspector Kevin Smith said:

“David Spurgeon is lucky to be alive. There were a number of failures of health and safety management by BT which related to planning the work, supervision, and checking it was being carried out safely.

Work at height needs to be properly planned, and this incident could have been prevented.”

 

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