Judge slams BT for blaming engineer after 7 metre ceiling plunge

Half a million fine, stung for £98k in costs


BT has been fined £500,000 and ordered to pay costs of £98,913.51 after one of its engineers broke both ankles after falling seven metres from a loft onto a concrete stairwell.

David Spurgeon was fixing a telephone fault in the roof void of a block of flats in Bow, east London, when he lost his balance and plunged through the ceiling.

"He managed to hold himself suspended for several minutes before his arms gave out, but was unable to call for help at the flat in Tay House on St Stephen's Road," news agency Court News UK reported at the time.

The Old Bailey heard that Spurgeon also suffered serious back injuries. He was allowed to retire on medical grounds in 2013, about two years after the accident.

In his sentencing remarks Judge John Bevan QC rebuked BT for trying to blame Spurgeon for the incident, CourtNews UK reported.

He said: "Mr Spurgeon and other colleagues were accused of being unreliable and milking his condition for the court’s benefit to do as much damage as possible to BT. This attack on the employees and the victim were in my judgement and clearly the jury’s judgement not necessary, misplaced and unfortunate. The company tried to avoid responsibility in an unfortunate way."

In a statement following the verdict, Health and Safety Executive inspector Kevin Smith said: “David Spurgeon is lucky to be alive. “There were a number of failures of health and safety management by BT which related to planning the work, supervision, and checking it was being carried out safely. Work at height needs to be properly planned, and this incident could have been prevented.” ®


Other stories you might like

  • North Korea pulled in $400m in cryptocurrency heists last year – report

    Plus: FIFA 22 players lose their identity and Texas gets phony QR codes

    In brief Thieves operating for the North Korean government made off with almost $400m in digicash last year in a concerted attack to steal and launder as much currency as they could.

    A report from blockchain biz Chainalysis found that attackers were going after investment houses and currency exchanges in a bid to purloin funds and send them back to the Glorious Leader's coffers. They then use mixing software to make masses of micropayments to new wallets, before consolidating them all again into a new account and moving the funds.

    Bitcoin used to be a top target but Ether is now the most stolen currency, say the researchers, accounting for 58 per cent of the funds filched. Bitcoin accounted for just 20 per cent, a fall of more than 50 per cent since 2019 - although part of the reason might be that they are now so valuable people are taking more care with them.

    Continue reading
  • Tesla Full Self-Driving videos prompt California's DMV to rethink policy on accidents

    Plus: AI systems can identify different chess players by their moves and more

    In brief California’s Department of Motor Vehicles said it’s “revisiting” its opinion of whether Tesla’s so-called Full Self-Driving feature needs more oversight after a series of videos demonstrate how the technology can be dangerous.

    “Recent software updates, videos showing dangerous use of that technology, open investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the opinions of other experts in this space,” have made the DMV think twice about Tesla, according to a letter sent to California’s Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), chair of the Senate’s transportation committee, and first reported by the LA Times.

    Tesla isn’t required to report the number of crashes to California’s DMV unlike other self-driving car companies like Waymo or Cruise because it operates at lower levels of autonomy and requires human supervision. But that may change after videos like drivers having to take over to avoid accidentally swerving into pedestrians crossing the road or failing to detect a truck in the middle of the road continue circulating.

    Continue reading
  • Alien life on Super-Earth can survive longer than us due to long-lasting protection from cosmic rays

    Laser experiments show their magnetic fields shielding their surfaces from radiation last longer

    Life on Super-Earths may have more time to develop and evolve, thanks to their long-lasting magnetic fields protecting them against harmful cosmic rays, according to new research published in Science.

    Space is a hazardous environment. Streams of charged particles traveling at very close to the speed of light, ejected from stars and distant galaxies, bombard planets. The intense radiation can strip atmospheres and cause oceans on planetary surfaces to dry up over time, leaving them arid and incapable of supporting habitable life. Cosmic rays, however, are deflected away from Earth, however, since it’s shielded by its magnetic field.

    Now, a team of researchers led by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) believe that Super-Earths - planets that are more massive than Earth but less than Neptune - may have magnetic fields too. Their defensive bubbles, in fact, are estimated to stay intact for longer than the one around Earth, meaning life on their surfaces will have more time to develop and survive.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022