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BT fined £300k over Canonbury death fall

PUBLISHED: 07:00 21 December 2010

Southwark Crown Court

Southwark Crown Court

Archant

BRITISH Telecom has been fined £300,000 for health and safety breaches which contributed to the death of an engineer who fell from a stepladder.

David Askew suffered fatal brain damage when he fell and struck his head on the floor while carrying out cabling work at Canonbury telephone exchange in Highbury Grove.

The 52-year-old had been standing near the top of a seven foot wooden stepladder and reaching up to the ceiling of the equipment room when the accident occurred.

A colleague heard the fall and called for help, but Mr Askew – an electrical engineer from Braintree, in Essex, who had worked for BT for 30 years – died of his injuries in hospital.

Legal representatives for BT appeared at Southwark Crown Court today after the company was found guilty of failing in its duty to protect employees working at height following a trial in October.

Judge Deborah Taylor fined BT £300,000 and ordered the firm to pay £196,000 in legal costs.

She said that the firm had given “wrong” advice to staff about the use of ladders, and had failed to provide the correct equipment at the telephone exchange where the tragedy took place.

She said: “In my judgement, these failures by BT contributed to the cause of Mr Askew’s fall.

“This was a significant failing by BT, whose employees regularly worked at height.”

She added that Mr Askew was “clearly an exceptional man” and that his death had been a “great loss” to his family.

In a statement issued after the verdict, BT announced that it intended to appeal “on several grounds”.

The statement added: “This was an extremely sad and unfortunate accident, and our thoughts remain with the family and loved ones of David Askew”.


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