Council fined £5k for man’s well fall

MANSFIELD District Council has been fined £5,000 for a breach of health and safety after an employee fell six metres down a dry well while clearing litter at a town centre yard.

The worker, who does not want to be named, was clearing litter from White Lion Yard in April 2009 when the accident happened, leaving him with a dislocated elbow and cuts to his legs, arms and head and unable to work for six months.

He and two other workers had been asked to clear litter that had accumulated underneath a metal grid and on top of a mesh cover over the well.

After they removed the grid to be able to reach inside the well, the employee stepped onto the mesh, believing it was solid underneath, and fell down the well.

In a hearing at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, the council pleaded guilty to contravening health and safety regulations.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Stuart Pilkington told the court that the clean up of the yard had not been properly planned by the council and no instruction was given to the workers as to how the work was to be done, meaning it was not carried out safely.

“It’s important that risks are considered, particularly in instances like this where it is non-routine work and the risks may not be as apparent as in the work they do everyday,” he told the court.

The council apologised for the incident and stated that it had an “entirely clean” health and safety record before this happened.

Magistrates fined the authority £5,000 and also ordered it to pay £5,700 in costs.

After the hearing Mr Pilkington said: “This worker was extremely lucky to survive but he was quite seriously injured.

“Falls from height are the biggest causes of workplace deaths and it’s crucial that employers make sure work is properly planned, supervised and carried out to protect staff from these risks.”

The council’s head of customer services, Mike Farley, again apologised for the injury and distress caused to the employee, who has been back at work for some time after receiving support.

He said: “Following the incident we immediately launched our own internal investigation whilst working with the HSE.

“As a result a number of measures have been introduced, including bespoke training for employees and further clarification of roles and responsibilities for risk assessments and health and safety. New and revised risk assessments have also been implemented to cover town centre duties.”