The L S Starrett Company Ltd has been fined £3,000 after a worker was severely injured when he fell down a lift shaft, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced. The HSE investigation found that had the company carried out a suitable risk assessment, it would have identified the potential for the gates at the upper level of the lift to be opened, even if the platform was at the lower level, which exposed workers to the risk of falling down the lift shaft.
James Douglas was working at the company’s premises in Jedburgh, transporting a loaded cage trolley, weighing around 519kg, from the upper level of the despatch area to the lower level using one of the three table lifts.
He saw that the lift gates were open, but the platform was not at the upper level. As he looked down, he lost his balance and fell down into lift shaft, landing on the platform two metres below. The loaded cage then fell on top of him, trapping him from the top of his legs to his feet.
He suffered several severe fractures to his right hip and heel as well as tissue damage to his sciatic nerve, knees and lower legs, and had to undergo surgery that included the insertion of four screws in his hip.
The HSE investigation found that had the company carried out a suitable risk assessment in advance, it would have identified the risk of workers falling down the lift shaft. The HSE also noted it would have been reasonably practicable for the company to have installed automatic interlocks and platform positioning sensors.
Further, the lifts were subject to a thorough examination every six months, but the contractor had failed to notice this issue.
Immediately following the incident, the company prohibited the use of all table lifts in the factory until it had carried out a full internal investigation and implemented any changes identified. This led to the installation of interlocks and sensor switches on the lift shaft access gates.
The L S Starrett Company Ltd, of Oxnam Road, Jedburgh pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, s 2(1).