Council fined after woman's fatal fall
Posted by Jason Nicholls.
A council has been fined £80,000 after an elderly woman died after suffering a fall when the authority was carrying out repairs to her home in Scotland, highlighting the importance of warning signs.
90-year-old Catherine Walker fell through an unguarded access hole at her home in East Calder, West Lothian, in July 2009.
West Lothian Council was fitting new radiators, pipework, a boiler and electrical control systems as part of gas repairs. Because the pipework ran under the floorboards, they were lifted up in order to do the job.
The authority pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act at Livingston Sheriff Court on Monday (January 24th).
After the hearing, Health and Safety Executive inspector Garry Stimpson said the accident could have been avoided.
"The council employees should have covered the access hole or erected a barrier around it - this would have ensured the safety of Mrs Walker."
"Those working on central heating systems in a residential property must ensure that suitable and sufficient measures are taken to protect the residents."
A spokesperson for the council apologised for the incident and said it had cooperated fully with the HSE investigation.
"The council has worked in liaison with the HSE to review and implement actions and to ensure that everything practicable is done to carry out work safely in all circumstances. The council understands that the HSE is satisfied with the actions taken," the spokesperson said.
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