York Brewery has been fined £44,600 after a man fell through a trapdoor in its Last Drop Inn pub located in Colliergate, York.
The incident happened as a delivery driver was delivering gas cylinders to the pub, the driver was led into a pitch black room where he stepped aside to allow an employee to turn on the lights and subsequently fell five feet through an open trapdoor and on to the cellar floor.
According to Victoria Waudby, prosecuting at York Magistrates Court, the trapdoor stretched from wall to wall of the room and had inadequate safety precautions. The man suffered injuries to his knee, arm and rib as a result of the fall which prevented him from working for three months.
The court heard that the man was still in pain as a result of the injuries a year on from the incident, and he has been told further surgery is required. As a result of the incident the man suffers from psychological problems when delivering to dark areas of pubs and has suffered from depression following the incident.
York Brewery had previously been warned by City of York Council officers about the need to guard the trapdoor back in 2011, after it had been found to have been left open as often as eight times a day. District judge David Kitson said: “Why the trap door had been left open remains a mystery.”
The judge said that three years before the fall protection chains had not been used properly. A council spokesperson said following the court hearing: “This was a serious breach of health and safety, which resulted in the driver sustaining life changing injuries. It was a miracle that no one else was seriously hurt or injured before this incident took place.”
York Brewery managing director, Jonathan Barker has said he regretted the injuries and has told media he is “absolutely certain it won’t happen again”. Barker went on to say that members of the public and workers were “absolutely” safe in his company’s pubs.
The pub chain pleaded guilty to three health and safety legislation offences, failure to have a proper risk assessment, failure to carry out its business without protecting people properly and failure to protect people from falling from a height.
York Brewery was fined £39,480 and ordered to pay £4,972.54 prosecution costs to City of York Council, which prosecuted it along with a £170 statutory surcharge. The company has since sealed the trapdoor and made changes to the pub’s operating procedure to prevent a repeat of the incident.