Property Owner Fined After Man Suffers Serious Back Injury

A businessman suffered a serious back injury after falling more than three metres from a faulty fire escape.


Ashfield Land (Birmingham), of Clifton in Bristol, has been fined £13,500 for failing to maintain the emergency exit at the Tolson Mill building in Fazeley, Tamworth.

Jonathon Hoey was hospitalised for a month and was forced to wear a torso brace to support his body while his fractured vertebrae healed.

The 36-year-old rented office space on the fifth floor of the building in order to run his business.

One evening, he became aware that intruders had entered the premises and he decided to leave via the fire escape to avoid a confrontation. However, part of the metal staircase collapsed underneath him and he fell to the level below.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company had been aware that the stairs were in a poor condition six months before the incident, but the exit was not closed off.

Mr Hoey required extensive physiotherapy and was forced to close his business while he recovered.

Ashfield Land (Birmingham) pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(2) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 during a hearing at Stafford Magistrates' Court.

According to the HSE, this case should act as a warning to landlords that they must ensure potentially dangerous defects - particularly in emergency exits - are dealt with swiftly.

HSE inspector David Brassington said the company in this case had "seriously failed" the people who worked in the building.

"Duty holders with the responsibility for the maintenance of workplaces must ensure they are maintained, especially areas used for emergency access and exits," he commented.

"Where repairs cannot be made immediately, measures should be taken to prevent access to those areas. A fall from height such as this could easily have resulted in a fatal incident."

Falls from height are still the leading cause of occupational fatalities and injuries in the UK.