Safety Concerns Raised Following National Trust Death

Woman Fatally Injured In Exmoor Fall

08.07.2011

The National Trust has been urged to consider safety standards at its sites following the inquest into the death of a woman who suffered serious head and spinal injuries after a fall into a gorge in Devon.

Sigrid Smith, 81, tripped on a stone and tree stump before falling over a cliff in Exmoor at the end of June last year.

According to the National Trust, it was believed signs were not necessary and that the landscape would help to prevent anyone from falling into the gorge.

An inquest ruled her death was accidental, but Mrs Smith’s family have since called for an improvement in health and safety. The organisation is also thought to be reviewing standards at the site.

Public liability specialists at Irwin Mitchell regularly call for improvements in safety standards in public places and campaign for the rights of those who have sadly been seriously or fatally injured in such areas.

Katrina Elsey, an expert at the firm’s Sheffield office, said: “While an accidental verdict was returned in this terrible case, it is vital that lessons can be learnt from it which will ensure other people do not suffer in a similar manner.

“It is welcome news that the National Trust is reassessing standards at the site, as this is an undoubtedly a positive step towards learning lessons from the fatal incident.

“Safety in the countryside is a very important issue and our cases also include those who have been seriously injured as a result of farmers not taking steps to protect walkers.

“The health and safety of the public is not something which should be undermined, so I would hope that – in cases like this – it is possible for measures to be put in place which will allow people to enjoy the countryside in the safest manner.”