Dental company fined over receptionist’s fall

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OWNERS of a Sheffield dental practice have been ordered to pay out almost £100,000, after a receptionist fell more than three metres through a roof light while spending her lunch break on the flat roof of the surgery.

The woman, then 40, went on to the roof of an extension at the Firvale Dental Practice, operated by Integrated Dental Holdings, with a colleague at lunchtime.

During a two-week trial, Sheffield Crown Court heard the woman sat on the domed roof light, not realising how fragile it was. The plastic gave way and she fell, injuring her back, shoulder, knee and neck.

The jury heard that at least five other workers had used the roof.

The prosecution against Integrated Dental Holdings Ltd, of Bolton, Lancashire, was brought after an investigation into the incident, in March 2009, by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Some four years earlier, in a risk assessment by its own health and safety consultant, the dental practice had been warned the roof lights were fragile and that no protection was in place to prevent falls from the open roof edges.

Integrated Dental Holdings was found guilty of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £18,500 with £71,633 costs.

HSE inspector Mark Welsh said after yesterday’s sentencing: “Falls from height are the commonest cause of fatal injuries in the workplace and are also responsible for a large percentage of the most serious occupational injuries.”