Health & Safety News

News added on 10.02.2020


Safe systems of work

Lift not taken out of service resulted in serious injuries

An airline employee suffered serious injuries when he fell down a lift shaft at Exeter Airport. What was wrong with the lift and what should the airline have done to protect its employees?

An employee of Flybe Ltd was moving a loaded lift trolley in the tool department of Hangar 2 when he fell into the lift shaft. He was airlifted to hospital, where he spent several weeks being treated for his injuries.

The HSE’s investigation found that the lift doors had a fault which meant that they defaulted to locked. Employees were using the emergency door release key to keep the lift in operation. The investigation found that busy employees felt compelled to keep the lift in use, but this practice rendered its safety features redundant. Exactly how the employee came to fall down the lift shaft remained unclear, but the fact that the lift was being misused in this way presented a serious risk to workers.

The employer should have taken the lift out of service and put an alternative safe system of work in place, communicating this to all employees.

Flybe Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching its duty under s.2(1) Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of over £9,960.

The employer should have made sure that the lift was taken out of service until it could be repaired. Meanwhile, an alternative safe system of work should have been put in place and communicated to workers so they could carry out their work safely. Employees should not have been allowed to override the safety features of the lift.

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