The loss of life while on the job has cost one British firm a sizable fine following a court appearance.
According to information from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the national lift and elevator firm was sentenced for safety failings that were uncovered when a lift engineer died from a fatal electric shock while working at Pentonville prison in North London.
HSE investigated the matter once Steven Loake, 53, from Archway, died in an attempt to fix a fault on the chapel lift at Pentonville prison in Holloway in October of 2010. The engineer did not isolate the lift from the power supply and was found dead by a prison employee the same day.
Firm Fined Close to $155,000
ThyssenKrupp Elevator UK Ltd (TKE) found out during an April court appearance that it would be fined a total of nearly $155,000 and ordered to pay full costs for breaches of safety legislation identified during the HSE investigation. It was never contended that the breaches directly caused Loake’s death.
Southwark Crown Court was informed that the cause of the incident was Loake coming into contact simultaneously with a live conductor and metal parts of the lift structure, thus creating a path to earth and giving him a fatal electric shock.
Investigators found the lift had not been isolated from the mains and that Loake’s multimeter, an electrical test instrument, had exposed test probes, which can lead to ‘flashovers’ or arcing.
HSE discovered TKE Ltd, which was the maintenance contractor for all prison service lifts in the UK, did not come forward with a safe system of work for its field operatives, who were required to carry out work on live electrical systems. It had not provided sufficient information and instruction concerning work on electrical systems nor supervised employees properly.
TKE also failed in its duty to ensure Loake’s work equipment was fit for use. The multimeter was not maintained in good repair and insulation had been stripped back exposing an excessive amount of metal, causing an increased risk of shock and burns.
Company Had Prior Fines
HSE told the court that TKE Ltd was fined nearly $360,000 at Southwark Crown Court for a breach of Section (3)1 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 back in 2010. That matter was tied to the death of a member of the public in March 2003 in an incident involving a lift at the Broadgate Health Club in the City that TKE was responsible for maintaining.
ThyssenKrupp Elevator UK Ltd, of Bull Close Road, Nottingham, admitted to single breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 at an earlier hearing at Westminster Magistrates.
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