July 11, 2017

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Firm fined for ‘accident waiting to happen’

An Irish engineering company, Ellickson Engineering Ltd (in receivership), has been fined a total €750,000 after a passenger lift in the Killarney Plaza Hotel collapsed four floors with five people inside it.

The lift was installed, and for a time maintained, by Ellickson Engineering Ltd, which went into receivership shortly before the lift collapsed at the Killarney Plaza Hotel on 9 July 2011.

The company was found guilty at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court in March of a single breach of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989 over the installation of the lift in and around April 2004.

Waiting to happen

The court was told that the lift was an accident waiting to happen, and the incident was the result of historic damage incurred from the time of its installation.

A Health and Safety Authority (HSA) investigation established that a safety space and electrical system for the security of maintenance personnel working in the specialised lift system – a critical requirement for those undertaking maintenance works in such passenger lifts – had never been installed.

The investigation determined that Ellickson Engineering Ltd (in receivership) installed the passenger lift in 2004. The lift was installed into the existing building of the Killarney Plaza Hotel. On completion of the installation, the lift was placed into first use in April 2004.

Further evidence was heard that on the 9 July 2011, five guests of the hotel entered the passenger lift at the basement carpark level and selected reception level.  However, the lift by-passed the reception level and continued to the lift’s uppermost floor.

The passengers described how they heard a loud bang and how the lift rapidly fell, stopping momentarily before again falling some 5.85 meters to the ground at basement level.

Clear failure

Brian Higgisson, Assistant Chief Executive of the HSA said: “This investigation determined that there was a clear failure in the installation process of this lift.

“All lifts when installed must have the required safety features included and those with the responsibility for the installation process must ensure that this is the case. The consequences of failing in this duty, as we have seen, can be extremely serious.”

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