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Personal assistant fell through skylight into Barclays bank branch

  • Emma Barker-Knott plunged 20ft through the skylight in Highcliffe, Dorset
  • The 41-year-old landed on the floor of a Barclays bank, which was closed
  • She broke her pelvis and fractured five vertebrate in the fall in August 2009
  • Bank has been found guilty of breaching health and safety rules
  • Miss Barket-Knott has been awarded a five-figure sum in compensation

By Sophie Jane Evans

PUBLISHED: 05:35 EST, 22 October 2013 | UPDATED: 06:06 EST, 22 October 2013

A personal assistant has been awarded thousands of pounds in compensation after plummeting 20ft through a skylight and landing in a Barclays bank.

Emma Barker-Knott broke her pelvis in the fall, which happened as she watered her flowers on the roof-top terrace of her flat above the bank in Highcliffe, near Christchurch, Dorset.

The 41-year-old caught her foot under the lip of the dome-shaped skylight and stumbled forwards – before crashing through the glass panel.

Plunge: Emma Barker-Knott, pictured above with the now boarded-up skylight, has been awarded thousands of pounds in compensation after plummeting 20ft through the dome-shaped light into a Barclays bank

Injured: The 41-year-old broke her pelvis in the fall, which happened as she watered her flowers on the roof-top terrace of her flat above the bank in Highcliffe, near Christchurch, Dorset

She plunged more than six metres into the bank – which was closed at the time – after a false ceiling a few feet below gave away.

Despite breaking her pelvis and fracturing five vertebrate in her back, Miss Barker-Knott managed to drag herself to a phone and call 999, before being rescued by firefighters.

She spent a month in hospital undergoing two operations on her pelvis – leaving her unable to work, sit down, cook or even lie down without suffering agonising pain.

An investigation by Christchurch Borough Council later showed that the glass skylight had become brittle and ‘fragile’ in the warm summer heat, while the roof covering did not have adequate slip resistance.

Scene

Scene: She caught her foot under the lip of the dome-shaped skylight and stumbled forwards – before crashing through the glass panel into the bank below (pictured)

Brave: Despite breaking her pelvis and fracturing five vertebrate in her back, Miss Barker-Knott managed to drag herself to a phone and call 999, before being rescued by firefighters. Above, the personal assistant's roof terrace

Brave: Despite breaking her pelvis and fracturing five vertebrate, Miss Barker-Knott managed to drag herself to a phone and call 999, before being rescued by firefighters. Above, the personal assistant’s roof-top terrace

hazard

Hazard: An investigation by Christchurch Borough Council showed that the glass skylight had become brittle and ‘fragile’ in the warm summer heat

It also found that freezing winter temperatures hadn’t been properly checked by bank staff.

Miss Barker-Knott, who was forced to take 18 months off work after the fall, has been awarded a five figure sum in compensation from Barclays in an out of court settlement.

The bank, which has branches in more than 50 countires, has also been prosecuted for health and safety breaches and ordered to pay nearly £20,000 in fines and costs.

Miss Barker-Knott said she had been fortunate to land on the floor of the bank – not a table or chair – during the plunge in August 2009

Treatment

Treatment: Miss Barket-Knott spent a month in hospital undergoing two operations on her pelvis – leaving her unable to work, sit down, cook or even lie down without suffering agonising pain

Compensation

Compensation: Barclays, which has branches in more than 50 countires, has been prosecuted for health and safety breaches and ordered to pay nearly £20,000 in fines and costs. Above, the now boarded-up skylight

She added that it had been lucky that the bank had been empty at the time as it was a Sunday.

‘I was watering the flower beds and the containers out on the roof terrace,’ she said. ‘The next thing I know, I had tripped. My big toe had got caught under the lip of the skylight and I stumbled forwards, putting my other foot on the glass.

‘I heard the smash of glass and I fell straight through.

‘I landed on a false ceiling that had been put in place under the skylight, so I think the staff must have actually forgotten the skylight was there at all.

Lucky

Lucky: Miss Barker-Knott said she had been fortunate to land on the floor of the bank – not a table or chair – during the plunge in August 2009

‘It felt like I sat there for ages but it must have only been a few seconds because the ceiling then gave away and I fell the rest of the way down.

‘It must have been a 20ft fall in all. I fell into the staff quarters of the bank and luckily landed on the floor and not a table or chair.

‘I was in agony and there was blood everywhere, I couldn’t walk and I knew straight away that I had broken something.’

She said she used her arms to pull herself along the floor, before calling 999.

‘I mustered up the strength and managed to pull myself along the floor using my forearms to get near a phone on one of the desks,’ she said.

‘Several firemen and paramedics arrived and I was taken to hospital.

‘I was in hospital for a month in total and was unable to work, sit down, cook, or even lie in bed without being in pain after suffering a broken pelvis and five broken vertebrates.’

Barclays, which pleaded guilty to failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety Act at Bournemouth Magistrates’ Court, was ordered to pay £16,000 costs and a £3,500 fine.

Steve Duckett, head of health and housing at Christchurch Borough Council, said: ‘Serious as the accident was, it could have had greater consequences had it happened during a working day when staff and customers would have been in the premises.’

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Via: DailyMail – News


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