Bradford Council has been fined £15,000 after a school caretaker plunged through a ceiling while changing a lightbulb – days before his retirement.

Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court heard 61-year-old David O’Hanlon has been left permanently disabled after he suffered a fractured hip and shattered heel bone after he stepped on to an unboarded area of a loft which gave way beneath him, at the old Beckfoot School building in Bingley on June 22 last year.

Morag Irwin, for the Health and Safety Executive, told magistrates Mr O’Hanlon, who had been a caretaker at the school for eight years. He was changing a bulb in the roof void so he could empty it before demolition of the old school.

The caretaker, of Bingley, was due to take early retirement when the old school closed, but had agreed to stay until June 27 to supervise the clearance of the old building, she said.

He was working with a colleague, who called for help and administered first aid when the accident happened.

Mrs Irwin said Mr O’Hanlon was taken to hospital, where he needed three screws in his hip and was told he might need a hip replacement. He might need metal plates in his heel.

The court heard there had been no risk assessment in place in relation to the loft area and, had an inspection been carried out by the Health and Safety Executive, enforcement action by way of a prohibition order would have been made until remedial work had been completed.

Mrs Irwin described the loft area as resembling an “adventure playground”. “There was no competent person responsible for health and safety at all on the site,” she said.

Richard Winter, mitigating for the Council, said the accident had been due to a “genuine oversight” and that other schools across Bradford would learn from what had happened.

The school’s management had not been aware that the loft space was being used, he said. The Council admitted one offence of failing to ensure the safety of its employee at work.

Magistrates handed the Council a £15,000 fine and ordered it to pay £5,667.30 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Speaking after the hearing, Mrs Irwin said: “This incident was completely avoidable and has essentially dashed Mr O’Hanlon’s hopes and expectations for a healthy retirement.”