Page last updated at 15:22 GMT, Thursday, 9 October 2008 16:22 UK

Council fined over theatre safety

Lyric theatre
The Lyric, Carmarthen was hosting an Urdd eisteddfod show

A council has been fined a maximum 45,000 after a teacher fell down a lift shaft backstage at a theatre while preparing for the Urdd eisteddfod.

Gareth Williams suffered serious facial and arm injuries at the Lyric Theatre, Carmarthen in May 2007.

Carmarthenshire Council admitted three charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act, before Llanelli Magistrates.

The council, which must also pay 7,712 costs, acted immediately to address the issues, the court was told.

The court heard Mr Williams, a teacher from outside the county, had volunteered to act as a stage manager during the youth cultural festival.

The council fell well short of the standards it would have expected other businesses to have met
Dale Collins, prosecuting

On 21 May 2007 he was at the council-run theatre for a technical rehearsal. He fell 2.5m down the shaft at the back of the stage, suffering injuries which still require a further operation to his wrist.

The shaft was used for a scissor lift to raise props and equipment from a basement.

Prosecuting Dale Collins said wooden boards, usually used to cover the hole, were not in place and there were no barriers or gates around it.

Failing

Furthermore the lift had not been properly maintained, had not been subject to a risk assessment and no employee or contractor had been trained to use it.

Following the incident, it was condemned by the council's insurers.

Mr Collins said the incident was all the more serious as Carmarthenshire Council was the enforcing authority for health and safety issues in the county.

"The council fell well short of the standards it would have expected other businesses to have met," he said.

The council pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the safety of employees and non-employees and failing to ensure the equipment was properly maintained.

In mitigation, Dafydd Enoch said the authority acted immediately to address the issue.

He said overall the council, which employs 10,000 staff, had an excellent safety record.

Sentencing the council to the maximum fine available to them, chair of the magistrates, Francis Neville, said: "The risk in this case was one of death."




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