Managers of the West End Arcade shopping centre in Nottingham have been ordered to pay £125,000 following an escalator accident in which a man lost his big toe.
Managing agents for the shopping arcade, Hodgson Elkington LLP, pleaded guilty to charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 at Nottingham Magistrates Court in October. They were sent to Nottingham Crown Court for sentence, where they were fined £75,000 and ordered to pay £50,000 costs.
They admitted exposing people to a risk to their health and safety by failing to maintain the escalator in the arcade properly and in a safe condition. They also admitted that systems to monitor safety on a daily basis were ineffective.
The case at Nottingham Crown Court follows an investigation by environmental health officers at Nottingham City Council after the accident almost three years ago. The investigation was supported by specialist inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive.
The injured man was using the escalator on his way through the arcade to work. His foot became trapped between the step he was on and the one above. The lighting in the area was poor and he didn’t notice that the riser, or front part, of the step he was on was missing or defective.
The escalator continued to move, exerting a considerable force onto his foot and causing very great pain. Members of the public tried to help him until he was freed by Notts Fire and Rescue Service but by that time he had lost his big toe entirely, was bleeding heavily and other toes were fractured and badly cut.
Councillor Nicola Heaton, Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said: “This was a very serious failing to maintain the escalator and it led to life-changing injuries for this young man.
“It highlights the importance of diligently managing safety every day. Safety regulations are not simply ‘red tape’, they are very important”.
The escalator was out of action initially while the investigation was underway and has subsequently been replaced with stairs.