An incident in 2009 where a lift at Tower Bridge, London fell three metres into a service pit has been presented at Southwark Crown Court by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The HSE told the court that failure of the counter weight mechanism caused the lift to suddenly fall injuring ten people. Four lift passengers sustained fractured bones and six were treated for shock and minor injuries.
The company responsible for servicing and maintaining the lifts was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £50,000 in costs after pleading guilty to two charges covered by Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.
A complex investigation by the HSE highlighted a number of significant safety issues. The court heard that there had previously been issues with the counter weight mechanisms on two other lifts. These had been replaced but no investigation into their design or suitability had been carried out.
The court was told that had a thorough investigation of the mechanism failure been done and acted upon, this incident would have been prevented.
After the case was heard, HSE Inspector Michael La Rose said:
“This was a truly disturbing incident that affected a number of people and that could have resulted in even greater injuries”.
“It is vital that lifts are properly maintained, and that urgent action is taken if any possible issues or concerns are identified. There were warning signs here that were seemingly overlooked, and missed opportunities to properly rectify recurring faults.”