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BT Fined £500,000 after Engineer Breaks his Back in Fall

Last updated: 08/02/2021

Following on from an incident where an engineer fell seven metres from a loft in London, British Telecom plc (BT) have been fined £500,000 after being found guilty of Work at Height breaches.

The injured engineer suffered serious injuries and had to be taken to hospital, where doctors found that he had a broken back and ankles.

The Old Bailey court heard how BT engineer, David Spurgeon, was carrying out his daily duties and at the time was fixing a telephone in the roof void of a residential block of flats located in Tower Hamlets, East London.

When the accident took place, Mr Spurgeon was working alone when he lost his balance and fell through the ceiling. He then landed directly on a concrete stairwell, which is where he sustained his serious injuries.

Following the incident in May 2011, an investigation was launched by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and they made some major findings. HSE found that there were many significant failures by the management of BT, some of which included inadequate planning of the work taking place near fragile surfaces. It was also found that they failed to check if the works were carried out safely. Both of these findings were breaches in health and safety regulations.

British Telecom plc, whose headquarters are located in Newgate Street, London, were found guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Safety and Health at Work etc Act 1974. Subsequently, the company was fined £500,000 and were also ordered to pay costs that totalled £98,913.51. During the sentencing remarks, the judge also added comments that criticised BT for attempting to cover their failures up by blaming their own engineers for the incident. He described the company’s approach as ‘not necessary, misplaced and unfortunate’.

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