Fall victim defends Dynamic Earth steps closure

Jennifer Hamilton broke her hip after falling down the front steps of Dynamic Earth in 2007. Picture: Greg Macvean
Jennifer Hamilton broke her hip after falling down the front steps of Dynamic Earth in 2007. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A GRANDMOTHER who fell and broke her hip outside a top visitor attraction has defended a controversial decision to seal off its landmark steps.

The amphitheatre at Dynamic Earth will remain shut until lights and handrails are installed, a decision blasted by former Tory MSP Cameron Buchanan as “health and safety gone mad”.

But Jennifer Hamilton, 65, who suffered the life-changing injury when she fell on the steps almost a decade ago disagrees.

She said: “I’m not saying I wouldn’t have fallen, but I would have been able to stop myself having such a severe accident if there had been handrails. I would automatically have grabbed onto them.

“Those steps are particularly deep. It is no different to having health and safety precautions in shops.”

Mrs Hamilton, from Leith, was warning her grandchildren to be careful on the steps when she lost her footing and fell.

Surgeons put pins in her left hip but they started to slip months after the operation and she was later given an emergency hip replacement.

Since her fall in September 2007, she has suffered almost constant pain and is only able to walk for short distances.

She also had her right hip replaced earlier this month, an operation she blames on the “peculiar way” she had to walk following the first injury.

Mrs Hamilton added: “The injury has certainly caused me a lot of distress. It has killed my ability to go walking. I can’t be on my feet for long. I have to sit down.” She has also been forced to take time off her job as a part-time optical assistant.

The steps have been closed since January in the wake of a review after a visitor took a tumble last year.

Council chiefs have written to designers recommending that lighting be installed alongside “white strips” to mark them out.

The plans have now been agreed by the environmental health department, though the planning processes is expected to take months.

John Simpson CEO, Dynamic Earth, said: “Since opening in 1999, Dynamic Earth has welcomed over five million visitors to the centre. During this time a very small number of incidents have occurred on our amphitheatre steps. Dynamic Earth takes health and safety extremely seriously and is currently working with the environmental health department to implement measures to the area as previously stated.

“We cannot comment on the specifics of any individuals concerned as we consider this to be a private and confidential matter.”

Dynamic Earth cost £34 million and was opened by the Queen in 1999.