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Tenant fell through faulty fire escape

A tenant at an office building in Tamworth, Staffordshire was badly injured when he fell though a faulty fire escape as he tried to evade intruders.

Jonathon Hoey, 36, rented the top floor of the five storey Tolsen Mill building in Fazeley, Tamworth. On 6 November 2012, he was working alone in the building during the evening, when he heard intruders. He decided to use the external fire escape to avoid any confrontation. As he started to go down the fire escape, the top treads of the cast iron metal staircase collapsed and he fell more than three metres to the flight below. He suffered fractured vertebrae and was unable to return to work for three months owing to his injuries, which meant that he had to temporarily close his business.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the incident and found that the mill’s owner, Ashfield Land (Birmingham) Ltd, had been aware for six months that the fire escape was in a poor condition. It had failed to ensure the fire escape was adequately maintained and also did not take steps to prevent access to the area until it was fixed.

HSE inspector David Brassington said: ‘In not maintaining this external fire escape, Ashfield Land (Birmingham) Ltd seriously failed the people using this building as a place of work. Duty holders with the responsibility for the maintenance of workplaces must ensure they are maintained, especially areas used for emergency access and exits.’

Ashfield Land (Birmingham) Ltd appeared at Stafford Magistrates’ Court and pleaded guilty to breaching reg.4(2) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. It was fined £13,500 and ordered to pay £961 in costs.

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