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New boiler leaves elderly lady with broken bones

Margaret O’Donnell (77) dropped four feet through the hole in her hallway and was trapped until workers heard her shouts for help.
A joiner, employed by Renfrew Council, had cut a hatch in the floorboards outside the living room door to gain access to piping and cabling, a routine procedure with the type of boiler installation being carried out.
Without covering the hole, he then left the property to carry out another job. As Mrs O’Donnell came out of her living room she fell through the hatch and had to be freed by other members of the installation team.  Not realising her injuries, Mrs O’Donnell initially thought she had escaped her ordeal with just a sore shoulder, but was later taken to hospital by concerned family members. X-rays revealed an un-displaced crack in her thighbone and a fracture to the top of her arm, after the fall in 2010.
The Health and safety Executive (HSE) found that Renfrew Council had failed to take the appropriate safety measures. They were fined £20,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The HSE inspector working on the case, said: “This incident was both entirely foreseeable and easily preventable – simple measures such as a temporary plywood cover would have eliminated the risks and prevented this incident.”
Diane Parker, partner and head of Atherton Godfrey’s Personal Injury department, said: “When work is carried out in properties where the occupier is present, there is an obvious risk of personal injury. The council were well aware of these dangers in fact their own risk assessment highlighted the need for open areas of flooring to be covered.”
Mrs O’Donnell sadly died in 2012 from an unrelated cause.

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