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West Yorkshire council in court after caretaker's injury

The hole from the roof void where Mr OHanlon fell at the former Beckfoot School in BradfordBradford Council has been fined for breaching safety regulations after a school caretaker was left with permanent disabilities when he fell through the school hall ceiling five days before his retirement.

David O'Hanlon, 62, was putting a new light bulb in a roof void of the old Beckfoot School in Bingley so he could empty it safely before demolition. In doing so he stepped on to an unboarded area that gave way beneath him, and fell four metres through the ceiling into the hall below.

Mr O'Hanlon, of Bingley, suffered a fractured hip that required three screws, and a broken heel. He is likely to need a hip replacement and further surgery on his heel to add plates and screws. He has also been told he will suffer from severe arthritis and will not regain full mobility.

The incident, on 22 June 2011, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted Bradford Council for safety failings (on 17 October).

Bradford Magistrates' Court was told that Mr O'Hanlon, a caretaker at the former Beckfoot school for eight years, had decided to take early retirement when it closed. The new Beckfoot school had opened that summer.

He agreed to stay on until 27 June and his last job was to supervise the clearance of the old building and ensure all classrooms were emptied. He decided to put a new light bulb in a roof void that had been used for storage so he could work safely.

However, as he stepped around the rubbish in the ceiling space, his foot went through an unboarded area and he fell through the ceiling. A colleague, who had gone with him to the school, was able to radio for help and give first aid until an ambulance arrived.

Bradford Council pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 for failing to ensure the safety of an employee working at height and with fragile surfaces. The council was fined £15,000 and ordered to pay £5,667 in costs.


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