In July 2015, Royal Air Force officer Sergeant Chris James had been at the White Lion hotel in Worcestershire attending a wedding reception. In the early hours of the morning he was found on the pavement outside the hotel following a 20ft fall from a window.
Sergeant James was pronounced dead by emergency services who attended the scene. The post-mortem confirmed he died of a traumatic brain injury along with swelling of the brain and an inquest held in May 2016 recorded a verdict of accidental death.
In February 2018 hotel owners Mr and Mrs Lear plead guilty to a breach of general duty at Worcester Crown Court. They received a fine of £34,000 and were ordered to pay £49,000 costs.
The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) advises that to ensure you are managing the health and safety of your business, risks must be identified and reasonable steps made to prevent any harm arising from that risk. As an employer, you are required by law to carry out risk assessments. The White Lion hotel had carried out risk assessments in 2013, but the risks in relation to falls from windows were not acknowledged and window restrictors were not in place. The HSE advises that a window opening should be restricted to 100mm or less and window restrictors should only be able to be opened using a key or a special tool.
Councillor Bronwen Behan of Malvern Hills District Council said “It highlights the importance to all businesses of ensuring their risk assessments are thorough.”
It is important to action any risks flagged up by a risk assessment, however small or insignificant they may seem. Ensuring you identify all risks and make reasonable steps to prevent harm will ensure that your business is compliant and a safe environment.
Navigator Health & Safety
- Is your workplace safe?
- Are your work practices current and appropriate?
- Do your staff comply with current procedures and working practices?
If you don’t know the answer to those questions, then a health and safety audit is your next step.
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