Constructor company fined after Wisbech engineer seriously injured in lift shaft fall

15:46 24 January 2014

Addenbrooke's Hospital

Addenbrooke's Hospital

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A construction company has been fined after a Fenland lift engineer was seriously injured when he fell down a lift shaft at a hospital construction site.

Terry Moore, 51, from Wisbech, suffered fractures to his left foot, shoulder, lower spine and pelvis in the incident at Rosie Maternity Hospital – part of Addenbrooke’s – on March 29 2012.

Cambridge Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Moore, an experienced lift engineer, was working on the highest floor of a three-storey building and was preparing the lift shaft ahead of a lift installation.

He was about to bring up further equipment from a floor below when he fell into the lift shaft and plunged nine metres to the bottom of the shaft, where he was discovered by a sub-contractor working nearby.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found guard-rails placed across the entrance to the lift shaft did not meet the statutory height requirement.

Belfast-based Farrans (Construction) Ltd were fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £5,225 costs after pleading guilty to a single breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector John Berezansky, said: “Farrans (Construction) failed to implement a well-known industry standard regarding the height of the barriers across the lift shaft entrance.

“This standard has been in place for a considerable number of years, and it clearly states that the top guard rail must be at least 950mm above the edge from which any person is liable to fall.

“That is an absolute requirement and the onus is on employers to ensure this standard is met at all times.

“Construction work is a high-risk activity where falls account for a large proportion of all deaths and serious injuries.

“The end result here is that Mr Moore, an experienced engineer, sustained horrific injuries and could easily have been killed.”

HSE’s investigation found the guard-rails placed across the entrance to the upper floor shaft were 908mm high and did not meet a long-standing regulatory requirement.

The regulations state that the top guard rail should be at least 950mm above the edge from which a person is liable to fall.

The Court was told that although it could not be proven that the height discrepancy helped caused the fall, it was a serious safety failing.

More information about working safely at height can be found on the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/falls/

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