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Yorkshire horse trainer fined for skylight fall

The owner of racing stables in North Yorkshire has been prosecuted after a yard worker fell more than three metres through a skylight in a stable block.

Paul Cussons, who had worked at Thorndale Farm near Richmond for 26 years, was asked by trainer and bloodstock agent Alan Swinbank to cut down some overhanging trees above an ageing stable block before planned renovation work.

Northallerton Magistrates' Court heard that Mr Cussons had not been trained in either the use of a chainsaw or in how to work safely at height.

He took a chainsaw onto the roof of the stable block but as he was sawing through the branches he slipped on some leaves and fell through a skylight, landing on the concrete floor below. He broke both shoulder blades, fractured a rib and punctured a lung.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated and two Prohibition Notices were served on Mr Swinbank preventing further work activity with the chainsaw and stopping work at height.

The court was told that 16 months after the incident on 2 July 2010, Mr Cussons was still suffering from the injuries and had been unable to return to work. He had worked at Thorndale Farm in Melsonby as a driver for 16 years and the previous ten carrying out maintenance of the stable yards and grassland.

Mr Alan Swinbank, of Thorndale Farm, Melsonby, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £6,048 in costs.


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