A lift installation company has pleaded guilty to a breach of health and safety regulations in relation to a lift it installed in Galway city over 20 years ago.
Ennis Lifts Ltd of Clon Road, Ennis, Co Clare was charged that while an employer on 25 June 1998 at Hynes Building, Augustine Street, Galway, it failed to ensure, as far as was reasonably practicable, that people were not exposed to risks to their safety or health, in that it installed and put into service a lift which had a horizontal distance between the inner surface of the lift well wall and sill of the lift car door in excess of 0.15m without taking measures to address the gap.
Simon Adair, one of the two directors of Ennis Lifts pleaded guilty to the charges today at Galway Circuit Criminal Court.
Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Kerida Naidoo SC, told the court that today's charge related solely to the breach of the 1989 Act and that causation was not an element of the offence to which the accused would be pleading guilty.
Mark Madigan, an Inspector with the Healthy and Safety Authority told the court that he attended for an inspection at Hynes Building on 13 January 2014 following an incident in which a three-year-old boy had become trapped in the lift.
A technical investigation of the lift revealed that gap between the sill of the lift car’s door and the inner surface of the lift well wall exceeded the legal parameters laid down in the European directive and transposed into Irish law.
Mr Madigan said the gap can be reduced with certain measures and a lock can be fitted to ensure the lift door will not open between floors. "These measures had not been put in place," he said.
He agreed with counsel fort Ennis Lifts, Ronan Kennedy SC, that the lift had been in operation in the building for 16 years prior to the incident and that no accident had ever occurred during that time.
Written evidence showed that Ennis Lifts had advised the owners of Hynes Building to engage insurance engineers to carry out regular inspections on the lift, in order to comply with safety regulations.
Inspections were conducted every six months, amounting to a total of 34-36 inspections over the years and no one ever raised an issue regarding the gap. Indeed one inspector in recent years indicated the gap was acceptable.
The court heard that Ennis Lifts were not responsible for maintenance of the lift in Hynes Building and had no involvement with the lift in the eight years prior to the incident in 2014.
Judge Rory McCabe said he would need to consider the legal implications of the submissions made by both sides today. He will deliver his judgment next Friday.