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Worker fell six storeys to his death in lift plunge

Two London contractor companies have been handed more than £600,000 in fines after one worker was killed and another seriously injured when a lift car they were standing on fell down its shaft.

Work was underway to decommission the lift shaft in a building that was being converted into luxury apartments, Southwark Crown Court was told. In January 2011 the victims were working on top of the lift car when the chain that was supporting it broke. It plummeted six storeys to the bottom. 

One of the labourers, who was wearing a harness attached to the top of the lift car, fell in the space between the car and the shaft and survived with serious injuries. The other worker was not wearing a harness and died instantly.  

The planning and management of the project was inadequate, the HSE said after the accident. 

The principal contractor and employer on site was T E Scudder, a demolition contractor that is part of civil engineering firm Carey Group. It pleaded guilty to breaching ss 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £600,000 plus costs of £27,400.  

Patrick Pearson, director of Intervale and the project’s contract manager responsible for planning the decommissioning of lift shafts, admitted breaching s 3(2) of the same act. He was ordered to complete 120 hours community service and pay £3,000 in costs. 

HSE inspector Lisa Chappell said those involved in planning the job did not have appropriate training in lifting operations.


Keeley Downey was the former assistant editor of IOSH Magazine. Previously she was editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

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