Derbyshire school fined after grandmother falls from stairs

A Derbyshire school has been prosecuted for safety failings after a pupil’s grandmother fell off the side of an unguarded staircase.

Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court today (2 Oct) heard 68-year-old Christine Bywater had been at Repton School watching her grandson play football.

She had gone to the pavilion for refreshments with the rest of her family but on leaving the building by the outside steps, she lost her balance when she moved from a wooden staircase to a stone one.

Mrs Bywater, of Shrewsbury, fell over the parapet on the stone staircase to the ground some two metres below and fractured three bones in her neck. She also broke the index finger on her right hand and lacerated her scalp in the incident on 30 November 2013. She is still recovering.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found there were handrails fitted to the wooden stairs leading from the pavilion to the stone staircase while the stone staircase had a 40 centimetre-high parapet running along the edge of the stairs but no handrail.

Repton School, of Repton, Derby, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1), contrary to Regulation 12(5), of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £534 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Edward Walker said:

“This was a foreseeable incident which could easily have been avoided had reasonable measures, such as the fitting of guard rails, been taken.

“Published guidance exists regarding appropriate edge protection and dimensions for handrails which the school could have used to identify the appropriate standard.

“The school has since fitted wooden rails to the previously unguarded edge, but it should have done this before someone suffered a painful injury.”


Notes to Editors

1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement.

2. Regulation 4(1) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 states: “Every employer shall ensure that every workplace, modification, extension or conversion which is under his control and where any of his employees works complies with any requirement of these Regulations which (a) applies to that workplace or, as the case may be, to the workplace which contains that modification, extension or conversion; and (b) is in force in respect of the workplace, modification, extension or conversion.”



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