Monday 23 May 2022 06:52 PM College where teacher died of Covid breached health and safety laws during ... trends now
A college where a teacher died of Covid-19 has become the first education sector employer in Great Britain found to have to breached health & safety laws during the pandemic.
Burnley College, Lancashire, was found to have failed to ensure staff safety during the outbreak of the virus in a damning report by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The report followed an HSE investigation into the death of Donna Coleman, 42, in January last year.
The findings showed the college failed to 'meet social distancing and ventilation requirements' in an office that Donna shared with two colleagues - even after one tested positive.
It also demonstrated that staff at the further education college were encouraged not to report their 'close contacts' if they caught Covid-19.
Donna Coleman, 42, did not attend the parties but had previously raised concerns about Burnley college's allegedly lax approach to Covid rules, who have now been found to have breach health and safety rules by the Health and Safety Executive
Burnley College was found to have failed to ensure staff safety during the pandemic, the first education sector employer to have done so
Programme leader Donna began to raise concerns about her safety in the lead up to students returning to the FE college in September. Donna is seen on a night out - she did not attend the college Christmas parties
The report further confirmed that a Christmas party 'for all staff' was held when there was a strict ban on gatherings - on the same day as the infamous Downing Street bash.
Footage of the party later emerged showing a staff member breaking into a karaoke rendition of 'It's Raining Men' in front of an assembled cheering crowd.
The University and College Union, which supported Donna's family in bringing the case, said the school had 'endangered the lives of staff and students'.
General secretary Jo Grady said: 'The Health and Safety Executive has found numerous instances where Burnley College failed in its duties to protect the safety of its staff and students during the deadly second wave of Covid.
'Whilst the HSE was not able to find that Burnley's failings directly caused Donna's death, it is clear that the college endangered the lives of staff and students.
'The college should not need a year-long investigation to address basic failings like refusing to allow staff to self-isolate when it was a legal requirement or to realise that it is incredibly reckless to push ahead with a Christmas party during a pandemic.
'Many workers have lost their lives to Covid and today our thoughts remain firmly with Donna's family.'
Stephanie Coleman, (front) whose sister Donna, 42, (right) worked at the college and died from Covid-19, said there was a culture of denial about covid at the college
Stephanie Coleman, 39, Donna's sister said that programme leader Donna had raised concerns about her safety as students returned to the college in September 2020.
She said: 'She was asked to go back to do some claims, so she did, as there was only her and another person in the office.
'At that point, she said there was nothing in place, but it was kind of okay as she'd brought her own mask and taken her own hand sanitiser in.
'But in September, 100 per cent of staff and a 100 per cent of students back.
'She told me, 'There's 15 of us in our staff room, and there's no social distancing going on.'