York pub fined £44K after man seriously hurt in trap door fall

The five feet drop into the cellar at the Last Drop Inn. Photographs: City of York Council
25 Sep 2018 @ 7.10 pm
| News

York Brewery has been fined £44,000 after a man fell down a trap door in one of its pubs.

The company was convicted of failing to address serious health and safety breaches at York Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday (September 25).

On 13 July 2017, a driver was making a delivery to The Last Drop Inn on Colliergate. He fell five feet down an open trap door into the cellar below.

The man sustained serious injuries including a dislocated right knee and torn ligaments, as well as cuts and bruises to his left arm and ribcage. He requiried surgery and intensive physiotherapy.

As a result of his injuries, he was unable to work for three months, unable to drive for six weeks and is still experiencing ongoing shooting pains and discomfort.

No barriers

The safety barriers were inadequate
At the time of the incident, the premises had no physical barriers to prevent falls into the cellar if the trap door was open.

Instead, any member of staff using the cellar would inform other staff of their intention. They would then leave the trap door open while they were in the cellar.

A staff member at the pub informed the court that this could happen up to eight times a night.

The premises also stored their gas cylinders in a corridor behind the bar on the ground floor.

That area of the pub was dark. The delivery driver moved out of the way to allow a staff member to access the light switch.

As he did so, he fell through the open trap door, which occupied the whole width of the corridor.

No safety chain

The trap door when it is closed
The council carried out a health and safety inspection of the premises on September 6 2017.

The findings of that inspection found there was a safety chain attached to the corridor wall on one side of the cellar trap door with a yellow danger sign.

But that it was ineffective as the fittings to fix the safety chain to the opposite wall were missing. There was also no safety chain on the other side of the corridor at the other side of the cellar trap door.

The Last Drop Inn on Colliergate, York. Photograph © Google Street View

Since the accident, the company has relocated equipment in the cellar on to the ground floor of the building and sealed the former trap door shut.

York Brewery Co Ltd was ordered to pay £39,480 in fines, costs of £4,972.54 and a surcharge of £170 (total £44,622.54).

A City of York Council spokeswoman said:

  • This was a serious breach of health and safety, which resulted in the driver sustaining life changing injuries.

    It was a miracle that no one else was seriously hurt or injured before this incident took place.

    Thanks to the council’s public protection team’s vigilance, these issues have been identified and customers protected.