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Lift death highlights elevator risk

by Access Legal

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A lift company has pleaded guilty after a woman was killed by a faulty elevator at her gym. Katarzyna Woja was crushed to death when the lift at her City of London gym fell between floors.

On the same day it was revealed former racing driver Sir Stirling Moss had tumbled down a lift shaft at his home, leaving him with two broken ankles and other injuries.

A lift accident at Tower Bridge a year ago injured 10 passengers.

Health and Safety Executive figures show four people have been killed and 266 injured in elevator accidents since 2002.

The HSE categorises elevator accidents as those taking place in lifts, hoisting devices and elevating work platforms. Another 182 injuries took place in lift shafts, service ducts, and cellar hatches.

The most common lift-related injuries are minor and may never be reported, such as trips, bumps and pinched fingers.

More serious injuries occur when something goes seriously wrong with the electrical system or safety mechanism of the lift.

Since 1997, passenger lifts across Europe have been governed by the Lifts Directive, which says that equipment must be maintained by the lift owner. Passenger lifts must be examined and tested every six months by 'competent' persons, such as members of the Safety Assessment Federation.

Domestic lifts do not fall under the same legislation and must be maintained at the owner's discretion.

Owners and occupiers of premises have a duty to ensure all areas open to the public are safe and that risk of injury to visitors is minimised.

A public place includes all locations open to members of the public, including schools, supermarkets, shops, restaurants, parks, swimming pools and even privately owned homes. 

We recently acted for a client who fell when using used a lift at a London hospital. Having gone up to the required floor he was – like most people – concentrating on looking at direction signs rather that where he was putting his feet.

Due to a three-inch discrepancy in the level of the lift floor and the level of the corridor he fell, and suffered a broken arm.

The cause of the accident was traced back to a lack of regular maintenance and a faulty safety feature. The claimant received compensation for his injuries and out of pocket expenses.

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