Workers Injured After Fall Down Lift Shaft

Two men were left with horrendous injuries after they fell down a lift shaft at work.  The men were busy working to build some new student accommodation in Exeter when the incident occurred in February 2008. There was a wooden platform covering the hole in the lift.  The men were standing on the platform which had been in place for two weeks when it collapsed.

Ricki Slocombe and Matthew Blackmore fell storeys to the ground below. In the incident Mr Slocombe was left having to use a wheelchair for many months as he broke his legs, he has still not been unable to start working again since the accident.  Mr Blackmore broke his back in the fall.

Three Firms Found Responsible for the Accident

At the hearing this week Exeter Crown Court fined three companies in relation to the incident. Cowlin Construction, Prestoplan and Somerset Carpenters were fined for their part in the fall. They were all guilty of failing Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. This is the Section which dictates that all employers must ensure their employees are not exposed to risks. Cowlin Construction were fined £85,000 and £20,000 costs. Prestoplan were fined £50,000 with an additional £20,000 while Somerset Carpenters were fined £35,000 with an additional cost of £22,000.

After the incident Somerset Carpenters, who supplied workers at the site where the accident occurred were handed a Prohibition Notice. The notice was supplied by the Health and Safety Executive and it demanded that safety measures must be put into action which would stop anyone else falling down the lift shaft before work could start again.

Workers Must Be Kept Safe While at Work

All contractors and employers have a duty to their workers. Safety measures have to be put in place to reduce any risks to their health and safety.  Risk assessments, good health and safety values within the workplace and training can all help to reduce those risks and contribute to good management on sites.

In the incident with the men falling down the lift shaft a risk assessment would have been able to identify the hazards.  Safe working methods, extra equipment and improved platforms could have prevented the fall.  Since the accident Mr Slocombe has been unable to return to how he was before, his life has been changed and both men could have been killed in the fall. Employers have to follow the law and do everything they can to remove hazards like this and the Health and Safety Executive will continue to prosecute any firm that isn’t in compliance with the law.

Health and safety consultants are able to help all employers in the construction industry and all industries to ensure the Health and Safety at Work Act is followed through their various health and safety services. Health and safety audits can help to identify any areas of weakness, where there isn’t compliance with the regulations and where changes need to be made to avoid the chance of anyone been injured or have their health affected from their work. Call 0800 1488 677 and ask about the health and safety services available.

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