A coroner has demanded lessons are learned from the death of a Sheffield pensioner who fell on a public flight of steps highlighted as a health and safety risk.
Sheffield Council and contractors GF Tomlinson Ltd both came in for criticism for a breakdown in communication after an inquest failed to establish exactly what caused Maureen Tandy, of Manor, to trip on a section of steps in South Street Park.
The great-grandmother died in hospital on December 14, 2011, from a bleed on the brain and skull fracture, a day after falling from a section of steps close to the bottom.
Witnesses told the Sheffield inquest that council staff and members of the public had voiced concern in the weeks leading up to the tragedy, about the steps’ metal edging coming apart from the concrete base.
Correspondence between the city council and contractors was scrutinised during the two-day hearing.
While experts were unable to determine whether it caused her to trip, a chain of emails from both parties showed they failed to address the problem before Mrs Tandy’s death.
Simon Ogden, head of city regeneration at Sheffield Council, said: “At the time there was nothing to suggest they constituted a trip hazard. The issue here is - what constitutes a trip hazard?”
A witness statement from University of Sheffield lecturer Sam Ladkin said mother-of-four Mrs Tandy appeared to have no trouble navigating the steps prior to her tripping.
Recording a narrative verdict, deputy assistant coroner Donald Cutswood said: “No-one saw the first part of the fall or what precipitated it and the cause remains unknown.”
The metal edging on each of the 196 stairs has since been screwed in place.
“I sincerely hope lessons are taken back,” added Mr Cutswood. “I think the age-old problem of communication is at the centre of this.”