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Company Fined After Worker Injured in Fall from Height

British Telecom plc (BT) has appeared in court on health and safety charges after an engineer fell seven metres from a loft in London, breaking his back and his ankles.

The engineer was fixing a telephone fault in the roof void of a residential block of flats in Tower Hamlets, East London. He was working alone when he lost his balance and fell through the ceiling, landing on a concrete stairwell and sustaining serious injuries.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried an investigation into the incident and found a number of management failures by BT, including inadequate planning of work taking place near fragile surfaces and failing to check that it was carried out safely.

BT was found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Safety and Health at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay costs of £98,913.51. In his sentencing remarks the judge criticised BT for attempting to blame its own engineers for the incident. He described their approach as being ‘not necessary, misplaced, and unfortunate’.

“There were a number of failures of health and safety management by BT, which related to planning the work, supervision, and checking it was being carried out safely,” commented HSE inspector Kevin Smith. “Work at height needs to be properly planned, and this incident could have been prevented.”

The latest HSE statistics show that 142 workers were killed at work during 2014/15, and 76,000 other injuries to employees were reported under RIDDOR.

In addition, 1.2 million workers suffered from an illness they believed was caused or made worse by their work, of which 0.5 million were new conditions that started during the year.

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence.

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