Family of Donna Coleman to appeal 'contradictory' HSE findings into Covid death at Burnley College

The sister of a popular Burnley College teacher who died of Covid has said the family will continue to fight for justice for her.

By Dominic Collis
Thursday, 26th May 2022, 11:06 am

Donna Coleman’s sister, Vicki, contacted the Burnley Express this week following publication of an investigation from the Health and Safety Executive which found that Burnley College had ‘broken health and safety laws’ at the time of Donna’s death in January, 2021.

The HSE opened a fatality investigation into Donna Coleman’s death after the University and College Union raised Covid health and safety concerns.

Donna (42) worked with vulnerable students at Burnley College.

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Donna Coleman's family are appealing a decision made by the Health and Safety Executive into her death from Covid while working at Burnley College

Donna had been working on site at the college and prior to her death UCU had rejected the college's risk assessments in her working area because of inadequate Covid controls.

The HSE found the college was not taking all reasonably practicable measures to control Covid at the time surrounding Donna’s death.

However, UCU, alongside Donna’s family, is pursuing the HSE’s appeal mechanism after the health and safety body concluded that irrelevant of the significant safety failings, Donna was more likely to have contracted Covid through community transmission rather than her work at Burnley College.

Vicki confirmed the family was appealing the decision and insisted the blame lays at the door of the college.

She said: “We are working with the union to appeal the decision as we need more answers. It feels very contradictory to say Donna followed all the rules and that the college had so many failings but that it was probable that she didn’t catch the virus in a staff room with a breakout.

"Donna should have been safe whilst at work and we want senior leaders and governors to be accountable as they had a duty of care to look after Donna and all of her colleagues along with students. We will continue to work with the union until we get justice for Donna.”

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “The HSE has found numerous instances where Burnley College failed in its duties to protect the safety of its staff and students during the 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."

Burnley College has not commented on the findings.