The Marriott hotel chain has been fined £15,000 after a woman fell through a ceiling at one of their city centre hotels in Bristol and fractured part of her spine.
Marriott Hotels International pleaded guilty at Bristol Magistrates Court yesterday to neglecting their general duty to a visiting contractor at the Bristol Marriott in Lower Castle Street.
Margaret Davis, 50, suffered two compressed fractures of her vertebrae and a fractured heel after falling eight feet onto a concrete floor in November 2009 when she unknowingly stepped on a hatch in an attic space.
She was working for a contractor, Sustain Limited, undertaking a survey of machinery rooms in the hotel with a view to providing insulation.
But crucial safety checks were not carried out before she climbed the ladder to the loft space, the court heard.
Prosecuting, Kate Burnham told the court the hatch did not feature in any risk assessments for access to the area and an investigation by Bristol City Council's public health services team revealed inadequate signage and that key procedures relating to contractors had not been followed.
In particular, there had been no health and safety briefing, the court heard.
Mrs Davis was off work for ten weeks and required 12 weeks of physiotherapy.
"In August, she was still suffering stiffness and discomfort," said Mrs Burnham, "but she is expected to make a full recovery."
She added Mrs Davis was not seeking any compensation but wanted to raise the issue to prevent anyone else being injured.
Defending the hotel chain, solicitor Jeremy Bark told the court the improvement notice served on the company had been complied with and they had also added additional safety features.
The Marriott's "loss prevention managers" for Europe and the West, Peter Welsh and Eddie Haste, were present in court and Mr Bark detailed their £1.8million health and safety budget to highlight the hotel chain's commitment to preventing accidents.
Chair of the magistrates bench Rachel Simmons said the court accepted this was an isolated lapse and praised Marriott Hotels for being quick to rectify the issue.
The hotel chain was also ordered to pay the full costs of £4,607 and a victim surcharge of £15 within 28 days.