Lift company prosecuted after one tonne lift motor crashes into hospital lobby

A lift company based in Banbury has been prosecuted after one of their lift motors, which weighed over a tonne fell into a lobby at Luton & Dunstable Hospital.

The motor was in the process of being hoisted over a hatch by the lift company when it suddenly came loose and crashed to the hospital below on 7 September 2010.

The effects of the impact on the hospital were such that the hospital lift lobby sustained significant structural damage as well as the ceiling that was a further level below the lift lobby. In addition to this, a member of the public who was waiting in the lift was lucky to escape with his life after being admitted to the accident and emergency ward due to the injuries he sustained as a result of the falling debris.

Luton & South Bedfordshire Magistrates’ Court was told that the motor came loose from its attachment and fell four metres due to poor planning on behalf of the lift company and unsafe working practices.

After their investigation into the incident the HSE decided to serve a Prohibition Notice in order to prevent the company from using the same working methods and equipment in the future.

The lift company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act Etc Act 1974 and was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £5,499 in costs.

An HSE Inspector commented after the hearing had concluded:

“Work on passenger and goods lifts is a high risk activity that causes significant numbers of serious and fatal injuries. The law broadly requires that competent persons plan, supervise and carry out lifting operations to ensure they are conducted safely.

“On this occasion the company failed to put suitable arrangements in place. Members of the public, including hospital staff and patients, had access to the danger area in the lift lobby below. It is a matter of good fortune that no-one was killed or more seriously injured when the metal motor came crashing down”.