Out-of-control lift crushes site engineer

Grant Prior 14 years ago
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An engineer was crushed to death by an out-of-control lift which started climbing while he was fixing wiring on the roof.

Kent based contractor J Brown Services has now been fined £20,000 following the tragedy at a site near Oxford Street in central London in December 205.

The Old Bailey heard how self-employed Andy Bates, 35, died while completing the installation of a new lift.

He was working alone on the lift’s wiring while standing on the roof of the lift car at an office building at Woodstock Street, London W1

The cable of a control used to move the lift was severed when it became wrapped around a bolt protruding from the lift shaft wall. This led to a rogue command being sent to the lift’s controller causing the lift to start moving upwards.

Mr Bates became trapped between the top of the lift car and the top of the doorway as it travelled upwards, suffering fatal crush injuries.

Neither Mr Bates, nor his assistant Liam Brown, had experience of installing the type of lift control system being fitted at the site.

The Old Bailey heard the main contractor carrying out the work was Swallow Lifts Installations which sub-contracted the work to a specialist lift engineer it had worked with previously. However, due to delays the sub-contractor had to leave the job uncompleted.

Swallow then sub-contracted the completion and testing of the lift to J. Brown Services Ltd who employed Mr Bates to undertake the final phases of work.

HSE Inspector Kevin Shorten said: “The tragic events at Woodstock Street illustrate the critical importance of having sufficient protective features within a control system.

“Just one fault sent this lift out of control. Completed lifts have many protective features and this principle cannot be ignored when lifts are being constructed. That is why the permanent car top controls should be used whenever possible, rather than temporary ones.”

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