Barclays Bank plc have been fined £3,500 and ordered to pay £16,000 costs following a roof fall incident at its branch in Lymington Road, Highcliffe.
The branch building is a two-storey structure with a one-storey extension to the rear of it. The second storey of the building is a maisonette which has access to it across the flat roof of the extension. The roof was covered in a waterproof material which was smooth and slippery when wet. There was a walking route across the roof made of concrete slabs and a paved patio area next to the walkway.
Between the walkway and the patio area was a skylight covered by glass with a raised glass dome over it.
On Sunday 9 August 2009 the tenant of the maisonette above the branch was watering plants on the roof terrace when she caught her toe under the lip of the dome and stumbled forward. Knowing that the wet part of the waterproof material would be slippery, she tried to avoid it by lunging forward aiming for a dry patch. Unfortunately she did not reach the dry patch and instead landed on the glass dome.
Her foot broke the glass and she fell through the skylight dropping three metres into the bank below. Despite her substantial injuries, she was able to drag herself to a phone and call the emergency services. She was eventually taken to Poole Hospital and treated for her injuries which included a fractured pelvis.
An investigation was undertaken by Christchurch Borough Council and a report requested from a Chartered Structural Engineer. The report found that the roof covering did not have the slip resistance that would be expected for a surface that would be walked on regularly. The area of paving forming the patio was not accessible without stepping over part of the roof.
The skylight was in an area to which people had unrestricted access and the roof covering near to the skylight could become slippery when wet. The report also said that the skylight was fragile and the fact that it could break if someone came into contact with it should have been identified.
Barclays were prosecuted for failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure that those persons not employed by the Bank are not exposed to risks to their health and safety.
Barclays pleaded guilty at Bournemouth Magistrates Court on 2 October 2013 and were fined £3,500 with £16,000 costs.
Following the incident, Barclays took steps to remedy the situation.
Steve Duckett, Head of Health & Housing at the Christchurch and East Dorset Partnership, said: “Serious as the accident was, it could have had greater consequences had it happened during a working day when staff and customers would have been in the premises.”