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Health and Safety Breach

A hotel on the edge of Bath has been fined £10,000 for health and safety breaches after a two-year-old girl fell from a first-floor window and fractured her skull.

Little Elsie Reed spent five days in a specialist head injuries unit after the incident at the Old Mill Hotel, at Batheaston. She had been at a wedding with her parents when her father had taken her up to the bar
area so they could get a better view of the festivities.

They stood near a large pair of open double doors, which were fitted only with
two horizontal bars to prevent someone falling out.

Elsie fell 10ft to the decking below

When her father’s back was turned, Elsie slipped out and fell on to the wooden decking nearly 10ft below.

She was taken to the Royal United Hospital, where she was given a CT scan, before being moved to Frenchay in Bristol for further treatment. Bath Magistrates’ Court heard that Elsie, who is from Longwell Green, was still
being monitored by doctors and that the full extent of her injuries might not be known for a few years.

Safety Measures

Robin Wood, senior trading standards officer at Bath and North East Somerset Council, said there had not been adequate safety measures in place at the window.

He said: “Accidents can happen and inevitably questions could be asked of Elsie’s father and his level of supervision,”

“However, the hotel has accepted they had a duty of care towards people not in their employment. They didn’t
take reasonable and necessary steps to prevent an accident like this from happening.”

The Old Mill plead guilty

The Old Mill, a limited company, pleaded guilty to two health and safety charges and expressed “sincere regret” about the accident last July.

However, Andrew Hopkin, representing the hotel, said they felt Elsie’s father also had to take some of the blame for not supervising her properly next to the window.

He added that since the accident a pane of glass had been installed over the metal bars, which now satisfied the council’s health and safety team.

The maximum possible fine for the two charges was £40,000, but Mr Hopkin argued that the business was struggling because of the recession and submitted a copy of its finances to the magistrates.

Magistrates fined The Old Mill a total of £10,000 and ordered that it pay £1,948 towards the council’s costs, as well as a £15 victim surcharge. The hotel agreed to pay £1,000 a month.

David Carter, the council’s senior environmental health officer, said:

“Falls from height are the biggest cause of workplace deaths and sufficient measures are put in place to protect the public and their own staff from the risks.The council took the business to court after it found that the accident would have been avoided had the appropriate health and safety measures been in place.”

“The council is committed to supporting businesses in ensuring that risks in the workplace are managed sensibly, but will prosecute when employers fail to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the public.”

Marco Aurelio De Fendi, a director of the company which owns the hotel, said:

“The Old Mill Hotel sincerely regrets the incident which occurred in July of last year. The hotel has always
sought to maintain high standards in all aspects of its business and has reviewed its systems following the incident.”


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more on this issue;

(March2012) [online] available at