July 25, 2017

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources


Inquest begins into death of health and safety expert who fell down lift shaft

An inquest began yesterday into the death of a health and safety expert who fell 30ft down a lift shaft during an inspection.

James Merritt, 39, was checking three lifts at a technology firm’s three-storey building.

Merritt, of Hampton Magna, Warwicks, worked for Zurich Engineering. He had more than 20 years’ experience and was awarded Engineer Surveyor of the Year in 2014. Dominic Dawson, chief engineer for Zurich Engineering, said he was one of its most highly- qualified experts.

The dad-of-two was inspecting two passenger and one freight lift at Telent Technologies Services in Warwick when he died on 11 October last year.

Rescue teams dashed to the industrial park in Warwick but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Major head injuries

The inquest at Warwickshire Coroner’s Court heard that Merritt had suffered major head injuries. Delroy Henry, Assistant Coroner for Warwickshire, said: “He arrived a little after 8am to begin his work – he interacted with a maintenance worker.

“He unfortunately was discovered at the bottom of the lift pit where the passenger doors operate just before 1.30pm. He suffered major trauma to his head and later died at the scene.”

The inquest also heard Mr Merritt was one of the most highly qualified safety experts at Zurich Engineering, who employed him to carry out risk assessments on businesses. Dominic Dawson added: “We carry out examinations of lifting equipment, pressure systems, all kinds of equipment and statutory examinations so people understand their equipment is safe – our examinations are legal requirements.

Very experienced

“James commenced his employment in June 2016, he worked in a similar role as an engineer surveyor before. He had a Higher National Diploma in Mechanical Engineering and was part of the Engineering Council as well as an Incorporated Engineer.

“This is a very experienced engineer level. He had been an engineer for over 20 years – ten as a surveyor.”

Describing the training Merritt undertook to reach his position, Dawson added: “He would take certain health and safety exams over that period of time. He got 92% on his final exam, which is very, very high – figures are usually around the 80%t mark.

“His job could include working in confined spaces and heights.”

The hearing continues.

Stay Ahead of the Curve in Operational Excellence Theatre

Focusing on the more technical elements of the profession, this theatre at Safety & Health Expo 2019 will include:

  • Asbestos competency in the 21st century
  • Does ISO 45001 support a strong safety culture?
  • Breathe Freely: A campaign to reduce respiratory lung disease in construction
  • Procurement: The changing face of health and safety - from policing to leaving a legacy
  • Effective investigation implementation

The full agenda is designed to inform, illuminate and provoke conversation and debate as the profession powers forward. Get your free ticket to Safety & Health Expo | ExCeL London | 18 - 20 June

Related Topics

1 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
1 Comment authors
Tracey Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of

How very sad to hear that and condolences to his family.. I wonder if it will make others realise that us H&S professionals are only human after all.