A north-east plumbing firm has been fined more than £4,000 after a blind man fell through an open manhole.
Stonehaven company A&R Services admitted that a tradesman had failed to put the required safeguards in place – which resulted in the 62-year-old falling to his injury.
Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard the victim was left with a large hematoma, swelling and bruising as a result of the incident.
He died only days later – but the fall was not attributed to his death, the court was told.
Fiscal depute Gail Adair said A&R Services worker Richard Campbell – who is also a partner in the firm – removed a drainage manhole cover while responding to an emergency call-out at Hanover Court in Banchory on February 19 2020.
After working on a blockage, Campbell left the manhole “unattended and unguarded” while he returned to his van to pack up his equipment.
As Campbell checked a second manhole for blockages, a resident – who was registered blind – fell through the open manhole.
The resident declined medical assistance following the incident but had to be taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary six days later.
He suffered a large hematoma, extensive swelling and bruising to his right leg.
While in ARI, the man suffered a stroke and died on February 28 2020.
A&R Services pleaded guilty to one charge of failing to put in place effective measures to ensure that pedestrians were prevented from falling into an open manhole.
Asked for comment, an A&R Services spokeswoman said the firm had “nothing to add to the outcome of the case”.
‘Reasonably foreseeable’ that someone might fall down manhole
Defence solicitor Mark Donaldson provided mitigation on behalf of A&R Services, saying Campbell “took steps to prevent access to the hazard” by blocking the residential access door with the manhole cover.
It was also stated that during the “very short” time Campbell was away from the open manhole, he saw the blind man approaching and warned him of the hazard.
Campbell claims he heard the resident reply as if he understood the warning.
His failure to cordon off the area around the open manhole was described as a “temporary lapse” by Mr Donaldson.
Sheriff Lesley Johnston told the court that she had considered the “seriousness of the breach” and the facts that the 62-year-old was injured during the incident.
She said Campbell took “what he considered to be a preventative measure” to stop anyone exiting the building by placing the manhole cover against the door.
The sheriff added: “However the accused accepts that a barrier ought to have been erected around the open hatch.
“It was reasonably foreseeable that an individual might fall into the open hatch and it ought to have been expected that individuals – including the elderly and disabled – might be in the vicinity.”
Sheriff Lesley Johnston fined A&R Services, of Barclay Street, Stonehaven, a total of £4,175.
For all the latest court cases in Aberdeen as well as crime and breaking incidents, join our Facebook group.