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Hotel guest’s “tragic” window fall prompts safety review

Hotel guest’s “tragic” window fall prompts safety review

Thursday 24 October 2019

Hotel guest’s “tragic” window fall prompts safety review


Hotels and guesthouses are being urged to review the safety of their windows after the “tragic” death of a 62-year-old Irishman, who accidentally fell seven metres from his second-floor bedroom.

The guest, a retired detective of the Garda, was staying at the Revere Hotel before his death from multiple injuries in the early hours of 12 December 2018.

The incident prompted the Health and Safety Inspectorate to advise establishments in the hospitality sector on their legal obligations regarding window safety, which requires a risk assessment to be carried out.

An inquest into the man’s death, which was held at Morier House yesterday, heard he was in the island for a couple of days to attend the funeral of a family member.

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Pictured: The inquest was heard at Morier House.

Following the service, the man and his brother-in-law had gone for lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon and the evening having drinks at Kitty O’Sheas. While the man was under the influence of alcohol at the time he died, it was not deemed to have played a part in his death.

The Police Coroner’s Officer, Tony Forder, explained the man had fallen out of the window of his second-floor bedroom and had gone through a skylight located on a flat roof one floor below (a drop estimated to be around 3.7metres), before landing on a granite fireplace in the hotel’s bar. In total, he fell seven metres.

Sadly, the Irishman suffered significant head and chest injuries, which Deputy Coroner, Advocate Mark Harris, described as “unsurvivable”.

He died a few hours after his fall at the hospital, despite many attempts to resuscitate him. 

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Pictured: Hotels and guesthouses are required to carry out risk assessments.

Dr Amanda Jeffery, a Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist, said she had found no evidence to suggest the man had been restrained, assaulted or had suffered a “medical collapse".

Mr Forder explained the man had gone to bed after smoking a cigarette in his bedroom, leaving the window open. It is believed that sometime after the man got out of bed, on the side facing the window, he either stumbled out of it or became “disorientated” and accidentally fell through the window whilst going to the bathroom.

“There was nothing to suggest it was anything else than a very tragic accident,” Mr Forder added. 

Summing up the case, Advocate Harris said while it was impossible to say with “any certainty” what had happened, and that it was “more likely than not the man had accidentally fallen out of the window."

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Pictured: The HSI will soon be visiting local hotels and guest houses.

“I do think he was unlucky his fall was not broken by the skylight on the flat roof,” he added.

Following the incident, the Health and Safety Inspectorate (HSI) was asked to review the window in the bedroom and concluded it was in good condition and working order, and capable of being fully opened. 

Tammy Fage, Director of Health and Safety, said the tragic accident had served to highlight the need to identify and control the foreseeable risks associated with falls from hotel windows to those in the industry.

She explained a similar incident had happened earlier in 2018 during which a hotel guest had sustained “life-changing injuries” and that, as a result, the HSI had launched a targeted initiative on window safety

Earlier this year, they worked with Jersey Hospitality Association and Visit Jersey to raise awareness of legal obligations, regarding risk assessments and the suitable precautions that must be taken. 

The HSI also issued specific guidance on how to control fall from windows to all JHA members, as well as guidance relating to balconies.

Speaking during the inquest, Ms Fage issued a reminder that the law does not require the risk to be removed completely because “in most cases, it is not possible to do so".

The second phase of the initiative, which is about to start, will see the HSI carry out a series of inspections in local hotels and guesthouses to ensure the minimal legal requirements are being met.

Ms Fage explained the campaign aims to ensure “a similar accident will not occur in the future".

Concluding the inquest, Advocate Harris shared hopes that the fact some learning had been gathered by this particular death would bring “some small comfort” to his family. He then expressed his condolences to them, saying he was "very sorry" for their loss.

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