The NHS Litigation Authority has been prosecuted after an 82 year old man fell to his death outside a health centre. The man died after his mobility scooter collided with a wooden weather screen outside the main entrance of the Fareham Health Centre. The collision caused a section of the screen to give way creating a gap through which the scooter then fell 12 feet onto a walkway below.
The Health and Safety Executive investigation found that the barrier had not been constructed to the required standard to resist impact from a mobility scooter, and that no assessment had been made to consider the suitability of the weather screen. In addition to this there had been a failure to maintain the structure appropriately; the investigation found that the collapsed section was so badly decayed that pieces of the wood could easily be removed by hand. It transpires that planned maintenance work to replace the rotten parts had been cancelled and rescheduled more than twenty times, without the work ever having been carried out.
The HSE inspector said: “This tragic incident could have easily been avoided if the barrier at the Health Centre had met the well-known and established standards for design and construction of barriers and if the required maintenance had been carried out as soon as it was identified. Instead a family has lost a well-loved husband and father. Mobile scooters are being increasingly used, especially in pedestrian areas. Businesses need to appreciate this and ensure existing structures and barriers are re-assessed to ensure they are suitable for these machines.”
This case highlights the necessity to constantly re-evaluate the risks present in workplaces and public spaces. Employers and those responsible for health and safety need to look at any developments around the area to ensure new risks are identified and managed. In this case we see a situation where no physical changes have been made to alter the risk dynamic, but that a change in the way in which people arrive at the premises has caused a new risk to be present.
If you or someone you love has been injured in the workplace, or in a public space, and you feel that it could have been avoided, you should contact one of our solicitors today. They have years of experience in this field and will swiftly be able to tell you if you can claim for compensation.