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Court Hears School Maintenance Worker´s Accident Attributable to Negligence

Posted on: August 10th, 2016

Chelmsford Crown Court has heard how a school maintenance worker´s accident was attributable to the school failing to enforce health and safety policies.

On February 17th 2015, Keith Chandler (63) was one of a team of school maintenance workers restoring the Grade II listed Newnum House within the grounds of the Brentwood School in Essex. As Keith climbed onto the roof of the bay window he was helping to repair, his foot got caught and he fell 2.6 metres to the ground below.

Keith was taken to hospital, where he was diagnosed with a hairline fracture to his shoulder, five damaged vertebrae and a bruised kidney. Although he was able to return to work six weeks later, Keith is unable to climb ladders, work at height or lift heavy loads. His injury has also affected the leisure time he spends with his grandchildren.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation into the school maintenance worker´s accident, and found there were no effective guardrails or any other means of protection to prevent workers from falling from the roof of the bay window. The school´s trust – the Brentwood School Charitable Incorporated Organisation – was subsequently prosecuted for breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

At this week´s hearing of the Chelmsford Crown Court, Judge Charles Gratwicke heard that although the school had health and safety policies, they were not enforced. The school´s former maintenance manager – Anthony Bridger – told the court that it was difficult to enforce the policies on the school maintenance workers because they were “old school and just wanted to get on with the job”.

Representatives of the Brentwood School acknowledged that they had failed to monitor the level of supervision and direction being given to the maintenance team and admitted liability for the school maintenance worker´s accident. Commenting that the outcome could have been far worse if Keith had landed on his head, Judge Gratwicke fined the school £40,000 and ordered that it pay £1,477 costs.