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Wells Cathedral School fined after loft hatch fall

Wells Cathedral School has been fined after one of its employees fell two and half metres through a loft hatch, breaking a shoulder blade and hitting her head.

South Somerset and Mendip Magistrates' Court heard that on 29 July 2011, the member of school staff had gone into an attic space next to her office to help a colleague folding storage boxes.

The attic had two access points, a door on the same level in the bursary, and another via a ladder in the library leading to a ceiling hatch. On turning to leave the attic, the injured worker inadvertently stepped onto the hatch, which gave way, causing her to fall to the library below.

During the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecution, the court was told the injured woman's colleague had earlier been warned by a school facilities officer not to stand on the loft hatch as he felt it would not take a person's weight. The court heard though the injured worker had heard him warn her colleague about the hatch, she did not take in the information, as she had not planned to go into the attic at the time.

The HSE investigation into the incident found although the school had recognised there was a risk of falling through the hatch, no risk assessment had been carried out for working in the loft and no measures were in place to prevent members of staff from stepping onto the loft hatch.

Wells Cathedral School Ltd., of The Liberty, Wells, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £7,700 and £2,172 in costs.


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