A Wiltshire based estate agents has been fined after a member of the public they were showing round a property fell 30ft down a well.
Swindon Magistrates Court heard how, during an open house viewing the prospective buyer stepped onto a wooden board which was covering a well. The board gave way and she fell 30ft down the well, where she became submerged by water. A hosepipe was thrown to the woman and she managed to secure it around her waist it was another hour before she was recused from the well. The incident left the victim with head injuries, including concussion but also suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the estate agents had been warned about the well and the board that was covering it did not look safe. The company did not properly investigate if there was a risk of people falling down the well when they were viewing the property.
Strakers (Holdings) Limited of Market Place, Devizes, Wiltshire pleaded guilty to breaching section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and have been fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,474.
Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Matthew Tyler said: “This incident could have easily become a fatal tragedy. If, when warned, of the unsafe well the company had properly checked to see if it was secure the trauma this individual has gone through could have been prevented.
“Employers must check the risks associated with their work to protect their workers and members of the public they have contact with. Once they have identified any risks they can take practical steps to control them.”
Notes to Editors:
- The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. hse.gov.uk
- More about the legislation referred to in this case can be found at: legislation.gov.uk/ 
- HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk