A man was left with serious back injuries after falling over three metres through a faulty fire escape while fleeing from intruders at the mill building where he worked, a court heard.
Jonathon Hoey, 36, was forced off work for around three months and had to temporarily close his business after the accident in which he suffered
fractured vertebrae, Stafford Magistrates’ Court was told.
Mr Hoey’s landlord, Ashfield Land (Birmingham) Ltd, which owns the Tolson Mill building in Fazeley, Tamworth, was fined £13,500 and ordered to pay £961 costs after admitting it breached the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), prosecuting, said Mr Hoey of Tamworth, was working on his own in the top-floor space he rented at the five-storey mill when he became aware that intruders were inside the building on the evening of 6 November 2012.
To avoid a possible confrontation he used the external fire escape but as he made his way down the metal staircase’s top treads collapsed, sending him falling more than three metres to the flight of stairs below, the court heard.
Building users ‘seriously failed’
The HSE said that following the accident Mr Hoey spent a month in hospital, had to wear a torso brace while his injuries healed and had his mobility seriously limited. He had to undergo physiotherapy for six months.
Magistrates heard its investigation had found that Ashfield Land (Birmingham) Ltd, of Clifton in Bristol, failed to properly maintain the fire escape or ensure it was not accessible until it had been fixed despite being aware of its condition for six months.
Following the court case HSE inspector David Brassington said Ashfield Land (Birmingham) Ltd had “seriously failed” the people using the building as a place of work by not maintaining the fire escape.
He said Mr Hoey could have been killed in the fall, adding: “Duty holders with the responsibility for the maintenance of workplaces must ensure they are maintained, especially areas used for emergency access and exits. Where repairs cannot be made immediately, measures should be taken to prevent access to those areas.”