Fine for college after worker breaks back

A Lancashire college has been fined £20,000 after an employee broke his back while changing the filter of an air extraction system.

Burnley College admitted it failed to protect the 63-year-old engineering technician — despite specialising in teaching health and safety courses — at Preston Crown Court On October 23.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Rose Leese-Weller said: “It’s astonishing Burnley College failed to ensure basic health and safety systems were in place when it employs lecturers who specialise in this area.”

She added that because the filter had been fitted quickly into a badly chosen location, the worker, who has not been named, “had no choice” but to stand with one foot on a step ladder and one foot on a cabinet to reach the filter.

When the stepladder toppled from under him, he fell and landed on a bench, breaking his spine in several places and fracturing his breast bone.

He can now only walk short distances and is likely to need pain killers for the rest of his life.

An investigation by the HSE found a supervisor was aware he was working in this way, but failed to make alterative, safer arrangements.

No one from Burnley College was available for comment.