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17th March 2014

Landlord fined £13,500 due to faulty fire escape

A landlord has been fined after a tenant suffered fractured vertebrae when he fell through a faulty fire escape to evade intruders.

The tenant was left with serious back injuries after falling more than three metres while leaving the building in Tamworth on 6 November 2012.

The court was told that the Tenant rented space for his business on the top floor of the five-storey building. That evening he was working on his own when he became aware of intruders in the building and decided to use the external fire escape to try to avoid any confrontation.

But as he started to go down the fire escape, the top treads of the cast iron metal staircase collapsed and he fell more than three metres to the flight below.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) who  prosecuted the mill’s owners, Ashfield Land (Birmingham) Ltd on 12th March 2014, for safety breaches at Stafford Magistrates’ Court.

HSE identified the company had failed to maintain the fire escape and, despite being aware of its poor condition for six months, had also failed to ensure it was not accessible until it could be fixed.

Ashfield Land (Birmingham) Ltd of Berkeley Place, Clifton, Bristol, was fined £13,500 and was told to pay £961 costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4(2) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

Speaking after the hearing, the HSE inspector involved in the case said:

“In not maintaining this external fire escape, Ashfield Land (Birmingham) Ltd seriously failed the people using this building as a place of work.

“Duty holders with the responsibility for the maintenance of workplaces must ensure they are maintained, especially areas used for emergency access and exits.

“Where repairs cannot be made immediately, measures should be taken to prevent access to those areas

“A fall from height such as this could easily have resulted in a fatal incident.”

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