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Council ordered to pay £8,000 after school pupil's lift plunge

Edinburgh City Council has been fined £8,000 after a schoolgirl was injured in a lift fall.

A pupil at Liberton High School in Edinburgh dropped more than five metres as teachers attempted to free her from a lift that had broken down.

The student, then aged 15, fractured three vertebrae and bruised her back and sprained a wrist in the incident on December 8, 2011.

She was in hospital for two days and missed two weeks of classes.

Edinburgh Council was fined following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive.

The HSE said school staff failed to use the emergency call button or call the fire and rescue service after the lift containing four pupils became stuck between two floors.

Instead, teachers and the school janitor fetched the lift key, opened the lift doors and attempted to get the pupils out themselves.

One of the group fell into the lift shaft, landing in the basement.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court was told that on their arrival the fire service found that power to the lift had not been isolated and it could have restarted at any time.

The HSE said Edinburgh Council failed to ensure that school staff had been given sufficient instructions, information and training to deal with incidents of this kind and that no suitable risk assessment had been carried out.

It said the local authority was fined after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Inspector Hazel Dobb said: "A 15-year-old girl was seriously injured in an incident that was wholly preventable. As a result she spent several months in pain, her education was disrupted and her social life and part time job were both put completely on hold as she recovered.

"The teachers were well intentioned in their attempts to help, but had they received suitable information and guidance on how to deal with trapped people in lifts they would have called for help and not put pupils at such risk of injury.

"What was important was to make staff aware of the steps they ought to take in such situations. Simply distributing safety instructions to all staff and providing awareness sessions internally would have been sufficient.

"Unfortunately, this was not done because the risks associated with the use of the lifts had been entirely overlooked by the council."

ends

A pupil at Liberton High School in Edinburgh dropped more than five metres as teachers attempted to free her from a lift that had broken down.

The student, then aged 15, fractured three vertebrae and bruised her back and sprained a wrist in the incident on December 8, 2011.

She was in hospital for two days and missed two weeks of classes.

Edinburgh Council was fined following an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive.

The HSE said school staff failed to use the emergency call button or call the fire and rescue service after the lift containing four pupils became stuck between two floors.

Instead, teachers and the school janitor fetched the lift key, opened the lift doors and attempted to get the pupils out themselves.

One of the group fell into the lift shaft, landing in the basement.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court was told that on their arrival the fire service found that power to the lift had not been isolated and it could have restarted at any time.

The HSE said Edinburgh Council failed to ensure that school staff had been given sufficient instructions, information and training to deal with incidents of this kind and that no suitable risk assessment had been carried out.

It said the local authority was fined after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Inspector Hazel Dobb said: "A 15-year-old girl was seriously injured in an incident that was wholly preventable. As a result she spent several months in pain, her education was disrupted and her social life and part time job were both put completely on hold as she recovered.

"The teachers were well intentioned in their attempts to help, but had they received suitable information and guidance on how to deal with trapped people in lifts they would have called for help and not put pupils at such risk of injury.

"What was important was to make staff aware of the steps they ought to take in such situations. Simply distributing safety instructions to all staff and providing awareness sessions internally would have been sufficient.

"Unfortunately, this was not done because the risks associated with the use of the lifts had been entirely overlooked by the council."

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