Bath hotel fined over unsafe window cleaner
- 28 June 2013
- From the section Somerset
A restaurant and hotel firm has been fined £15,000 after a window cleaner was filmed balancing precariously on a ledge outside one of its buildings.
Loch Fyne admitted one breach of health and safety law and was also ordered to pay costs of £3,023.
Self-employed window cleaner Wayne Mallon was fined £2,000 on Monday.
He was seen climbing along the ledges of the third floor of the Milsoms Hotel building - owned by Loch Fyne - in Bath without ladders or safety equipment.
Mallon, of Whiteway, Bath, who works for Terry Mallon and Sons Cleaning Services, pleaded guilty to three health and safety charges at Bath Magistrates' Court.
The footage went viral when it was posted on YouTube in September last year and has attracted more than 90,000 views to date.
It came to the attention of the health and safety team at Bath and North East Somerset Council (Banes), which brought charges against Mallon and Loch Fyne, which has its roots on the west coast of Scotland.
The film was shown to magistrates and Loch Fyne admitted allowing a contractor to work at height in an unsafe manner.
Robin Wood, representing Banes, told the court that the firm had a duty of care to contractors.
"If a suitable risk assessment had been carried out, Mr Mallon would not have endangered himself or others below in the way he did," he said.
"There were a number of documents in place to make sure a risk assessment was possible but they were not being used and had not been checked by the company for more than eight years.
"We have no evidence that this happened on more than one occasion, except he seemed to know what he was doing."
He added: "The video has been seen by more than 89,000 people on YouTube. It has also appeared in national newspapers and on television.
"Window cleaners from around Europe have commented on YouTube. The industry itself is aware of this, and in some ways, they will take note of what has happened in this instance."
Speaking outside court, a Loch Fyne spokesman said the company took health and safety "extremely seriously" and expected the same from its contractors.
"We accept today's decision and are grateful this isolated incident in Bath was brought to our attention.
"As a result we have put tighter measures in place to prevent anything similar happening again, including stricter procedures for our restaurant manager to follow when using external contractors."
Loch Fyne, which employs 1,234 staff at 42 restaurants and four hotels, said it was the first time it had ever appeared in court.
Speaking outside his home, Mallon said he was "very health and safety conscious".
He added that only three of the hotel's 28 windows could be reached using "reach and wipe" equipment.