The 34-year-old ecologist, who doesn’t wish to be named, was surveying loft space for wildlife in a derelict building at Severalls Hospital in Colchester when the devastating incident happened on 12 May 2014.
She sustained a fractured vertebra at the base of her back, while she was required to wear a back brace for three months afterwards. This meant she was unable to return to work for several weeks.
Her employer, DF Clark Bionomique Ltd, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found it hadn’t properly assessed the work carried out at the site of the former psychiatric hospital.
While the company was aware that the hospital buildings had not been used or maintained since the site closed in 1997, its assessment was too general and failed to identify the risks of falling through fragile and rotting timberwork in the disused loft spaces.
The worker, who was kept in Colchester general hospital for seven days immediately after the incident as a result of her injury, plummeted almost four metres through a loft hatch to a concrete floor.
DF Clark Bionomique Ltd, of Andrews Farm, Burnham Road, Althorne, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It was fined a total of £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,138.50.
Source: Health and Safety Executive