Top rider hopes fire safety conviction will raise awareness among other employers

  • Top eventer Izzy Taylor said she hopes her prosecution for breaching fire safety regulations will make the industry more aware of the law, adding that she regrets mistakes she made.

    Izzy was sentenced at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on 2 January for failure to ensure there was an adequate risk assessment of fire, failure to protect escape routes in case of fire, failure to provide a working fire alarm and detection system, and breach of a prohibition notice. She was given a conditional discharge for three of the charges and fined £5,000 for the other.

    “This has been an incredibly difficult and worrying period but I am grateful to all those who have supported me, including my loyal staff, owners and sponsors, as well as my wonderful family,” Izzy told H&H. “I regret the mistakes I made and hope we as an industry can use this to become more aware.”

    A spokesman for Oxfordshire County Council said fire safety officers visited Izzy’s yard in October 2020.

    “The equestrian yard was operating on the ground floor and had two flats provided for staff accommodation above on the first floor,” the spokesman said. “Following a fire at the site, a fire safety audit was conducted… and inspectors found the premises were so dangerous they were left with no alternative but to prohibit the use of the building for sleeping until safety measures were improved.

    “As a consequence, they ordered the immediate removal of the occupants of the flats on safety grounds by use of a prohibition notice, so that it could not be used for sleeping.”

    The council’s fire and rescue service carried out another inspection in December 2022, and found Izzy had breached the prohibition notice as staff were being allowed to sleep in the building. An investigation led to the court case.

    Councillor Nathan Ley, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for community safety, said: “Business owners have a legal duty to put fire safety measures in place, and we will not hesitate to take action to ensure the safety of occupants, residents and customers.”

    The spokesman added: “Responsible persons must accept that they have a duty of care to ensure the accommodation they provide is safe and suitable.”

    Lucy Katan, executive director of the British Grooms Association and Equestrian Employers Association (EEA), told H&H that compliance with the law is not a choice.

    “This applies to everything in the workplace including employment, health and safety and fire legislation,” she said. “As an employer, it is your own strict liability and responsibility to research and provide what is required for your staff. There are no excuses. There is a mountain of general guidance online, and the EEA offers bespoke equestrian-setting support and documents.”

    Izzy added: “I am pleased to be able to put this chapter behind me now and I’m making exciting plans for the future. In the meantime, I’ve got some fabulous horses to compete and am looking forward to focusing on the start of the eventing season.”

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