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Bar firm £48,000 fined for health and safety failures after Shifnal employee's death

By David Banner | Shifnal | News | Published:

A national chain of bars has been fined for safety failures after an employee from Shropshire died in an accident in a lift.

Cyran Stewart, who was originally from Shifnal, was transporting heavy chairs in a service lift at the Walkabout bar in Swansea city centre when one of the chairs moved and crushed him.

The 20-year-old was trapped in the elevator for more than half an hour before firefighters managed to free him. He was taken to hospital but died four days later.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation following the 2014 death, and on today Walkabout operators Intertain Ltd – now owned by Stonegate Pub Company Ltd – appeared at Swansea Magistrates Court having previously pleaded guilty to five offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Walkabout in Swansea city centre. Photo: Google StreetView.

With credit for guilty pleas the firm was fined a total of £48,000 and was ordered to pay more than £15,000 in costs.

A 2018 inquest into Mr Stewart's death heard that in the early hours of September 24, 2014, he had been helping to clean up the bar following its popular weekly Carnage student night.

Just after 3am he was transporting eight heavy chairs in a goods lift at the Wind Street premises, and in order to get that number of chairs into the elevator, had overridden a safety mechanism on the inner door – something other staff members also did on occasion.

Paramedics

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The inquest heard that as the lift was going up, one of the legs of an upturned chair caught on the ceiling of the floor above, and moved – the former computer student was then crushed against the inside of the lift cage.

Colleagues raised the alarm after hearing Mr Stewart's screams, but a special key for opening the lift in an emergency was missing, and paramedics had to wait for firefighters to force it open before beginning treatment.

A jury at Swansea Coroner's Court returned a verdict of accidental death in the case following a two-week hearing.

Today magistrates heard that safety inspectors examined the lifts in Walkabout in the days following the death.

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In the opening of the prosecution case by Swansea Council, the court was told an investigation revealed the lift in question had missed its regular six-monthly thorough examination – the last such examination had in fact been some 962 days before the fatal incident.

A lift specialist with the HSE, Jamie Davies, said that in his opinion the lift was in a poor condition and should not have been in use at the time of the fatality.

Elizabeth Tremayne on behalf of the defendants said the company had effective health and safety procedures in place at the time of the incident but they "did not work" on the occasion in question.

She said the firm's lifts and hoists were subject to monitoring and audits both internally and from three external specialist contractors – namely Zurich, Pickerings, and Perry Scot Nash (PSN) – and that no problems with the Swansea lifts had been flagged up.

She said the defendants were "genuinely regretful" for what had happened, had co-operated with the HSE in its investigation, and had made changes to procedures following the death.

Giving Intertain Ltd credit for its guilty pleas, district judge Neale Thomas fined the company £48,000. The firm will also have to pay £15,130 towards costs – a sum agreed between prosecution and defence.

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