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14th April 2021

School Fined After A Member Of The Public Fatally Tripped Over The Low Wall

The Leys School in Cambridge has been ordered to pay £63,000 in fines and costs following a tragic accident that occurred on their premises. 

Incident

A family member of a pupil was attending an evening performance in February 2017. Whilst making their way across the grounds, the lady in question tripped over a low height retaining wall and fell to the ground sustaining a head trauma. The injuries lead to her death six days later in hospital. 

Insufficient lighting 

The school had conducted a risk assessment of their external grounds, taking into account pedestrian safety. However, upon investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), it was found that the area surrounding the retaining wall in question was not adequately lit. 

The risk assessment had failed to identify the trip hazard presented by the 30 cm wall and made no reference to lighting conditions, nor the hazard presented to pedestrians attending the school on an evening. 

Regulatory breach 

The Leys and St. Faith’s Foundation School pleaded guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 – specifically section 3 (1) which states that employers must reasonably ensure that people not in their employment are not exposed to risks to their health or safety. 

They were fined £52,800 and ordered to pay costs of £10,040. 

An HSE Inspector speaking after the hearing stated that the risk should have been recognised and that the school needed to improve lighting and install a handrail on top of the wall to increase the overall height. These measures have now been appropriately implemented. 

Duty holder

In this circumstance, the school was the duty holder as the occupier of the buildings and grounds and was held to task accordingly. 

In situations where a building or grounds are occupied by multiple tenants, it is often the case that the landlord will retain duty holder responsibilities for the common areas of these locations. 

To that end, they should ensure that the common parts have been appropriately assessed for a range of hazards including:

  • General site activities and exposures (Landlord’s risk assessment)
  • Fire (Fire Risk Assessment)
  • Legionella (Water Risk Assessment)
  • Asbestos (Asbestos Management Surveys)

For more information, you can visit our Property Owners Services page.

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