A care home operator has been fined £14,000 after an employee suffered “significant injuries” after falling around one-and-a-half metres down a lift shaft.
Northampton Magistrates’ Court heard how in 2016 the employee was using the platform lift to transport the residents’ breakfasts from the kitchen to the dining room on a different floor.
An interlock system which meant that the lift door could only be opened when the platform was at the right floor was broken. The employee fell down the shaft because the platform was at a lower level.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the door locking mechanism had been broken for about a month prior to this incident and management failed to deal with the known issue of employees overriding the door safety locking mechanism with a screwdriver.
The lift had also not been thoroughly examined.
Sutton in the Elms Care Limited of Sutton Lane, Leicester pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act and Regulation 9 of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Michelle Morrison, said “This incident could so easily have been avoided, had the management at the care home ensured that employees were not manually over-riding safety features on this platform lift.
“Safety features on all work equipment are designed to keep people safe and prevent accidents, such as this one.
“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”
A spokesperson for the home told CHP: “The home and its management are extremely sorry about the accident that occurred.
“The HSE accepted this was not due to, nor indicative of, any wider failings at the home, and the judge also noted this and the home’s good local reputation and importance to the community.
“It was accepted that maintenance agreements were in place and any shortcomings were rectified immediately. The home has learnt from the accident and taken steps to ensure nothing similar occurs again.”