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INQUEST: CHILD DEATH CAUSED BY FALLING LAMP POST

Coroner hears of devastation experienced by engineer over his role in death

An inquest into the death of a baby boy crushed by a falling lamp post days has received wide coverage in the national press. See below. The accident occurred at the site of a road re-widening scheme outside Chiswick (London) town hall on the morning of 23 February 23.

Tommy Hollis died a day before his first birthday after the post toppled on to his buggy as he was being pushed by a nanny in London. The impact struck a 62-year-old grandmother standing nearby rendering her unconscious. The child was taken to hospital by helicopter but died two days later.

The inquest in West London heard how the metal lamp post support was severed by engineer Kelvin Elmore who believed the support was an old tramline. Mr Elmore worked for contractor McNicholas moving Virgin Media cables as part of the road widening scheme.

The engineer immediately informed the company what he had done after hearing of the accident. In a written statement he said he was “utterly devastated” to have had anything to do with the tragedy adding “at the time I thought I was cutting an obsolete piece of steel. I had no idea it was connected to the lamp post. As a father myself I cannot express how horrified I am to have anything to do with the death of a child.

The BBC report that HM Coroner Ms Pygott said:

“The only conclusion I am, in fact, going to leave to you is that of accidental death. The issue of statutory liability for health and safety matters is not for this court and I do not consider that there is any evidence of a gross error that could give rise to any other conclusion. But I should add, for your information, that the fact of an accidental conclusion is not a bar to any prosecution or civil proceedings. It is simply a conclusion limited to this court.”

See further coverage at: BBC; Daily Mail; Daily Mirror; Telegraph and Guardian

Advice from HSE on working on or near lamp columns

The incident death prompted HSE to issue a Safety Notice FOD 5-2010 warning of the risks associated with working on or near lamp columns with non-standard roots during excavation works. A summary of action required is below. See Safety Notice for full details.

  1. Information: information concerning non-standard lamp column root design should be obtained and shared by all parties designing and carrying out the works;
  2. Planning: work carried out in the vicinity of non-standard root lamp columns should be planned, discussed and agreed with the local authority etc.
  3. Excavating: excavation works in the vicinity of lamp columns must not compromise column stability. The nature of any unidentified or unusual object encountered should be ascertained before any action is taken to disturb or modify it.

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