Lift firm fined £200,000 after young engineer killed at Shropshire Muller factory
A lift maintenance company has been fined after an employee died while working at the Muller factory in Market Drayton.
Lift Monitoring Systems Limited, previously known as RJ Lift Services Limited, was fined £200,000 on Monday following a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the death of 24-year-old Lewis McFarlin, a lift engineer employed by the Staffordshire company.
Muller was not prosecuted by HSE.
Mr McFarlin was crushed when attempting to repair a goods lift at Muller’s Market Drayton factory on January 14, 2020.
His mother, Leah Salt, said: “No one should go to work and not return.”
He and two other engineers were on site to work on a different elevator before being asked to resolve an issue with the door-opening mechanism on one of the lift landing doors.
In a bid to resolve the issue, Mr McFarlin was on top of the lift car with one engineer in the lift itself and the other outside on the landing. The lift had been placed in inspection mode enabling Mr McFarlin to control the lift from the lift’s rooftop. This mode enabled him to assist his colleague, inside the lift, to rectify the issue.
As the work progressed, the lift unexpectedly shifted from inspection mode to normal mode while Mr McFarlin was still on top. This sudden transition caused the lift to move at its normal speed, trapping him in a void between the lift car and the structural elements of the lift shaft.
Mr McFarlin’s colleagues tried to release him but were unable to. He died before the arrival of the emergency services.
An HSE investigation found that there was a failure to cover the void in which Lewis became trapped. Had the void been sheeted, the incident could not have happened.
Mr McFarlin’s mother, Leah Salt, said: “Hearing all the evidence this last week has been extremely difficult. Hearing how Lewis’ death was easily and reasonably preventable, is heart-breaking. No one should go to work and not return.
“As a family, losing our lovely Lewis and his future, has had a massive impact on all of our lives. Nothing can bring my son home, however, if future lives and families can be protected as a result of this outcome, then Lewis’ death hasn’t been in vain.”
Lift Monitoring Systems Limited, formerly known as RJ Lift Services Limited, of Galveston Grove, Oldfield Business Park, Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire, pleaded guilty to failing to discharge the duty imposed upon it by Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £200,000 at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court. Costs will be decided at a later date.
HSE inspector Andrew Johnson said: “This tragic and entirely preventable incident led to the loss of a much loved son. The risks associated with working on lifts and the necessary safety measures were well-known to the company.
“Sadly, in this case, the employer failed to meet its responsibilities to put in place simple and well established reasonably practicable measures such as covering the void in which Lewis became trapped in. Had the company fulfilled its duties, this tragic incident simply would not have happened.”