Woman was crushed to death by falling lift
Two companies have each been fined £233,000 after a woman was crushed to death by a lift at a health club in central London.
Southwark Crown Court heard that Katarzyna Woja, 32, was stepping out of a lift at the Holmes Place health club in the Broadgate complex, when the incident took place on 12 March 2003.
As Ms Woja was leaving the lift, she became trapped in between the doors as they closed. The elevator suddenly dropped, which caused her to be crushed against the wall of the lift shaft. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Following an investigation, City of London environmental health officers were unable to establish a reason for why the lift had dropped. But it is believed there was either a hydraulic problem, or the lift’s mechanisms froze or crashed.
The court heard that the lift had dropped the day before the incident and an engineer was called to inspect the fault. The prosecution confirmed there were 41 separate call-0outs to the lift between January 2002 and March 2003.
Holmes Places Health Clubs Ltd appeared in court on 14 May and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) and s3(1) of the HSWA 1974, and reg.5 of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, for failing to protect people being trapped or crushed by the lift. In addition to the fine, it was ordered to pay £170,000 in costs.
The lift manufacturer Thyssen Krupp Elevator UK appeared at the same hearing and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was ordered to pay £205,000 in costs.
Judge Debora Taylor said the accident was “highly foreseeable” and was due to “the complacency of both defendants.” She added: “There was no proper system of work for highlighting failures and the lift should have been taken out of service until the fault was identified.”
City of London director of environmental services, Philip Everett, said: “Both companies were guilty of not ensuring that their employees and their agents were fully aware of the consequences of failing in their responsibilities to manage and maintain the lift. In not dealing with the lift’s well-established erratic, and ultimately deadly, operation, the situation was allowed to go unchecked for many, many months. Employees and contractors simply went about their work unsupervised.“Health and safety management is about both making sure the right checks and balances are in place and that they are actually working. Tragically, for the deceased and for her family, in this case they clearly were not.”