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ESTATE AGENTS FAILED TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC

Prospective home buyer fell 10m down well during viewing

Strakers (Holdings) Limited, a Wiltshire based estate agent, has been fined £200,000 after a member of the public who was being show around a property fell 10m down a well.

Swindon Magistrates Court heard how during an open house viewing the prospective buyer stepped onto a wooden board which was covering the well. The board gave way and she fell into the well where she became submerged by water.

A hose pipe was thrown to the woman and she managed to secure it around her waist. It was a further hour before she was recused from the well.

The incident left the victim with head injuries, including concussion but also suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.HSE investigators found the company was warned about the well and the board covering the well “did not look safe”.

The company did not properly investigate if there was a risk of people falling down the well when they were viewing the property.

Warned of the unsafe well

Strakers (Holdings) Limited of Market Place, Devizes, Wiltshire pleaded guilty to breaching section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and have been fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,474.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Matthew Tyler said:

“This incident could have easily become a fatal tragedy. If, when warned, of the unsafe well the company had properly checked to see if it was secure the trauma this individual has gone through could have been prevented.

Employers must check the risks associated with their work to protect their workers and members of the public they have contact with. Once they have identified any risks they can take practical steps to control them.”

Strakers Antony Bulley told the BBC that directors and staff had been “deeply distressed” after a 39-year-old woman fell into the well during a property viewing last April adding

”We wish to make it known that Strakers have carried out extensive internal investigations and have fully cooperated with the Health and Safety Executive throughout, culminating in a plea of guilty at the earliest opportunity presented. The company aim is to ensure that everything possible is done to avoid any similar incident occurring in the future to any member of the public or our staff”

 

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