Lift firm fined after fatal accident at work

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A lift manufacturer, was found guilty of safety failings and fined £300,000 after one of its engineers suffered a fatal work accident at a London Airport.

Risk of Accident

An employee was crushed to death in October 2007 while installing a passenger lift at one of the airport's terminals, Isleworth Crown Court was told.

The court heard that the 45 year old man, was working on a ladder in a lift shaft helping to install 3 new lift cars. As a co-worker fetched equipment in one of the cars, a counterweight fell and fatally crushed the man.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report concluded that the firm failed in its duty of care in allowing unsafe working practises to continue.

The HSE inquiry showed that the passenger lift, although still incomplete and lacking key safety components, had been used to transport workers, equipment and materials.

Noting the ineffectiveness of the firm's radio and telephone arrangements, the HSE told the court that workers routinely communicated by shouting up and down the lift shaft. With others working in nearby shafts, this was potentially confusing.

The HSE also found no evidence that the company had identified the risk of impact or crushing from moving lift parts. It therefore failed to plan, organise or supervise activity to control and prevent this risk.

HSE principal inspector Norman Macritchie said the man's death was a "wake-up call" for any firm tasked with the installation and maintenance of lifts. "His death was entirely preventable, and we need to ensure that nobody else suffers the same fate.

"It is hard to overstate the potential for death or serious injury arising from moving machinery, electricity and working at height - all of which are everyday risks in this industry."

"Lift shafts by their very nature are confined and often poorly-lit places, where heavy components can move suddenly, silently and without warning. Due planning and extreme care must be taken at all times. It wasn't on this occasion and a life was needlessly lost as a result."

Pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, the firm, was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £169,970.

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