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MAJOR ESCALATOR FIRM FAILED TO PROTECT PUBLIC

Large fine imposed after leg of shopper trapped by missing step

Otis Ltd and contractor Complete Escalator Services Ltd have been ordered to pay fines and prosecution costs totaling nearly £300,000 at St Albans Crown Court following an incident in which a faulty escalator caused serious injuries to the leg of a woman shopper.

The court heard how the leg of the 23 year old woman was caught in a gap in an escalator at the Howard Centre, Welwyn Garden City in October 2013, resulting in serious injury.

Multinational company Otis Ltd was fined £240,000 and ordered to pay costs of £30,202 whilst contractor Complete Escalator Services Ltd was fined £13,000 and ordered to pay £11,332 costs for serious health and safety breaches.

Inadequate liaison, training, supervision and checking

Both defendants were prosecuted for health and safety failings which included not ensuring adequate liaison between the contractor and sub contractor’s on site teams. This allowed staff without appropriate training to undertake the work and a lack of clarity as to who was supervising the work with a failure to complete simple checks prior returning the escalator to service.

In mitigation a representative for Otis Ltd stated that the director of the company wanted to publicly apologise to the injured party.

Steps had been taken to strength the working relationship between themselves and sub-contractors. This included an Otis manager monitoring all working permits issued to sub-contractors.

Complete Escalator Services Ltd stated that the company was extremely apologetic for what had happened and that the director now personally supervised all work undertaken by his company.

Commenting on the case Councillor Roger Trigg, Executive Member for Governance and Public Health, said:

“Our thoughts remain with the injured person following what was a very complicated and time-consuming investigation, and I’d like to thank our team for their hard work in bringing this case to court.”

There is often a lot of negative press coverage about health and safety issues, but this case and the resulting prosecution illustrates that courts take real health and safety seriously, and that the council will take a proportionate action where workers or the public are put at risk. We will prosecute companies who fail to fulfil their duties regarding health and safety in the workplace.”

 

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