Estate agent fined after househunter falls 30 foot into well during viewing
A househunter plunged 30ft down a well after an estate agent did not warn her about the hole, the Health and Safety Executive has said.
Lucy Driver found herself stuck in water and clinging to a hosepipe to stay afloat for an hour before she was rescued, the HSE said.
Strakers (Holdings) Limited, of Devizes, Wiltshire, was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,474 at Swindon Magistrates' Court for the incident, which left Ms Driver with head injuries, concussion and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Strakers (Holdings) Limited had pleaded guilty to breaching section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Ms Driver and her husband James were looking around a property in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, during an open house viewing in April 2016.
She stepped on to a wooden board which was covering a well in the garden, the HSE said.
She fell, was thrown a hosepipe and managed to wrap it around her waist as she waited for help.
The estate agent had been warned about the well and that the board which was covering did not look safe, an HSE investigation found.
They said the company did not properly investigate if there was a risk of people falling down the well when they were viewing the property.
After the sentencing, HSE inspector Matthew Tyler said: "This incident could have easily become a fatal tragedy.
"If, when warned of the unsafe well the company had properly checked to see if it was secure, the trauma this individual has gone through could have been prevented.
"Employers must check the risks associated with their work to protect their workers and members of the public they have contact with. Once they have identified any risks they can take practical steps to control them."