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Boarding school fined £10,000 after grandmother’s staircase fall

A Derbyshire school has been fined £10,000 for safety failings after a pupil’s grandmother fell off the side of an unguarded staircase.

Sixty-eight-year-old Christine Bywater had been at Repton School watching her son play football when the incident occurred on 30th November last year.

She had gone to the pavilion for refreshments with the rest of her family but on leaving the building by the outside steps, she lost her balance when she moved from a wooden staircase to a stone one.

Mrs Bywater, of Shrewsbury, fell over the parapet on the stone staircase to the ground some two metres below and fractured three bones in her neck.

She also broke the index finger on her right hand and lacerated her scalp in the incident and is still recovering, Southern Derbyshire Magistrates Court was told.

An investigation found that while there were handrails fitted to the wooden stairs leading from the pavilion, there was no protection on the concrete staircase other than the 40cm-high parapet.

Repton School, of Repton, Derby, admitted to breaching Regulation 4(1), contrary to Regulation 12(5), of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £534 in costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Edward Walker said: “This was a foreseeable incident which could easily have been avoided had reasonable measures, such as the fitting of guard rails, been taken.

“Published guidance exists regarding appropriate edge protection and dimensions for handrails which the school could have used to identify the appropriate standard.

“The school has since fitted wooden rails to the previously unguarded edge, but it should have done this before someone suffered a painful injury.”

If you have suffered a personal injury which wasn’t your fault, call PM Law solicitors in Sheffield on 0114 2965444.

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