24 May 2013
Woman breaks jaw after fall
A woman who was injured after falling into an unprotected flood pit cellar could launch legal action against her employer's client.
Angela Watson, 38, is an employee of an energy meter reading service and had been sent to check the energy usage of a number of properties, including a communal unit at the Elliot Bank housing block in Forest Hill, London.
The basement Ms Watson entered has a flood pit room that plunges 2.5 metres below the ground to allow excess water to collect in heavy rain or flooding events.
Ms Watson used a fire brigade key to open the caretaker's cupboard in the building's lobby to try and find a lightswitch, but fell through an inner doorway that was mistakenly left open - dropping into the flood pit.
She was rushed to hospital after her jaw and wrist were fractured and she has since needed extensive reconstructive dental surgery as many of her teeth were shattered after she fell.
A subsequent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the caretaker's cupboard did not have adequate protective locks on it, no warning signs, no lights and no signs of danger visible to the naked eye.
Lewisham Homes, the council-owned organisation responsible for managing more than 14,000 properties in the London area, was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £5,804 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
HSE inspector Matt Raine said: "Angela Watson took the full force of this fall on her face and wrist, causing extremely painful and long-lasting injuries. [Ms Watson] has been badly affected by the incident.
"Lewisham Homes had taken control of a significant quantity of housing stock from the council. It was a large responsibility and yet they were completely unaware of the existence of the flood pit rooms at these flats."
Ms Watson has since made a recovery and is now back at work for the meter reading company.
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Posed by Francesca Witney