Worn out stairs carpet causes serious fall - yet still goes unrepaired

A city centre office received a routine health & safety inspection visit from a local authority inspector. The worn out nosings to the stairs carpet were pointed out by the inspector and the proprietor gave a written undertaking to replace the carpet.

Some months later the inspector found that the carpets had still not been replaced. The inspector gave a written warning to the proprietor about his obligations to deal with trip hazards. The company again gave assurances that they were to be replaced shortly and that temporary repairs would be carried out in the meantime.

Fifteen months after the initial inspection an employee at the office suffered an injury when she tripped on the stair carpet nosing when descending from the first floor. Tape placed across the worn out nosing had come away. The employee suffered a broken ankle and a dislocated foot. Ten days in hospital and ankle surgery followed. She was unable to walk for several months and still in pain and using a stick almost a year later. She has been unable to return to work since.

The accident was not reported to the local authority until three weeks after the incident yet when a visit was made to investigate there was no evidence of any improvements having been made even after the accident.

In the ensuing prosecution the proprietor pleaded guilty to offences under the Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992 with a substantial fine being imposed and the proprietor being ordered to pay the prosecuting authority's legal costs.

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