Firm is fined £4,000 after lift death fall

A COMPANY maintaining the lift at a Whitley Bay care home where an elderly resident fell to her death in a lift shaft has been fined several thousand pounds for a health and safety breach.

Derwent Lift Services and employee Paul Thompson were last year cleared of having anything to do with 92-year-old Elizabeth Young’s death at Heathdale rest home in September 2010.

It had been alleged that the lift door had been left unlocked when Mr Thompson serviced the lift, two days before Mrs Young opened it and fell to her death.

However, the company was convicted by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court, of failing to have a site-specific risk assessment in place and was this week fined £4,000 and told to pay £5,000 costs.

Judge Paul Sloan said: “I stress, that the conviction for that offence is not in any way related to the death of Elizabeth Young.

“Neither does the company bear any criminal responsibility for her death. The offence was committed on or about September 18, 2010.

“There was in existence a general risk assessment prepared by the company. The shortcoming as far as that document is concerned is that it was out of date, it had not been updated for 21 years.

“At one point it referred to a British Standard that had in fact been superseded. That document did not purport to be site specific.”

Judge Sloan said without it there was a risk to residents, who may be infirm or partially sighted as well as having difficulty comprehending warning notices and understanding instructions due to dementia.

Mark Balysz, defending on behalf of Derwent Lift Services, said it had an excellent safety record since it was established in 1989.

He added: “If one looks at what this company has been convicted of it is something that has absolutely nothing to do with the tragic fatality which occurred.”