MARK DANIELS - Adviser on visitor and occupational health and safety at historic buildings, parks, gardens, coast and countryside

News archive July 2014

25th July 2014

Employee killed in workplace accident at Burghley House

There were reports in the media covering a fatal accident which occurred on the 12th July, in which a butler at this stately home was killed when a service lift gave way as he was removing suitcases from it. The accident is being investigated by the police and HSE but there are few other factual details available at present. A fuller story appeared in the Daily Telegraph here - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/10991261/Butler-crushed-to-death-in-service-lift-at-Elizabethan-country-estate.html.

30th July 2014

Inquest into fatal fall on Snowdon

On 18th April this year, a man fell about 180 metres to his death on Snowdon. He was descending from the summit with a friend when they took the wrong route down a steep grassy slope on a path that petered out. They tried to retrace their steps when the fall occurred. Weather on the day was reported to be excellent and clear. The incident was fully described here, and the comments are also of interest - http://www.grough.co.uk/magazine/2014/04/19/walker-dies-after-falling-500ft-on-snowdon.

An inquest was held on 30th July, and while the Coroner returned a verdict of accidental death, she also made recommendations to the National Park Authority to address the dangers of paths that leave 'people in peril' - i.e. paths that peter out on the mountain. One of the survivors told the inquest that he thought he was on an established path. The National Park Authority has subsequently said that work is underway to remove the traces of false paths and discussions are in progress about carrying out landscaping work to try to prevent people straying into danger.

This type of management intervention in a rugged upland environment is unusual. Physical precautions such as signs and notices and landscaping work would not normally be expected, following the VSCG Guiding Principles, and it would be reasonable to expect visitors to the mountain to have the equipment, navigation skills and experience to descend safely from the summit. However, it can be argued that Snowdon, with the mountain railway allowing large numbers of relatively ill-equipped and inexperienced visitors to the summit, is a special case where additional physical measures are justified. Many would have concerns though that this approach could set a precedent elsewhere.

Reports on the inquest and the National Park response are here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-28569537
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-28587724

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