Passenger lift safety alert issued following boy’s death

Independent inspection of lift by family of boy with Health and Safety Authority

The Health and Safety Authority has issued an urgent safety alert reminding those responsible for the safety of passenger lifts to ensure they are thoroughly inspected every six months. The alert follows the death of a three-year-old boy in Galway last month.

A joint inspection of the lift in which Solomon Soremekun lost his life took place yesterday. The authority facilitated the inspection at the Hynes building by an engineer on behalf of the boy’s mother, Olmara Alibi.

Although the authority’s investigation into the boy’s death is continuing, it has issued an urgent safety alert, reminding those responsible for lifts to ensure they are inspected every six months. The alert says “an issue has been identified with a number of passenger lifts when in motion between floors”.

Maintenance and inspection
Those involved in maintenance and inspection should pay particular attention to the operation of the inner lift car door while the lift is moving, and the distance between the lift car door and the lift shaft wall, it says.


It also warns “duty holders” – employers and those who own and operate lifts – to ensure maintenance and inspections meet the required standards and are carried out by “competent” people.

It says the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 places duties on employers and “persons who have control to any extent of a place of work” to ensure that “the means of access to and egress there from and any article provided for use are safe, and without risk to health”.

Reports of examinations every six months are required, and logbooks should record details of repairs or checks, it says. It also warns care should be exercised when lifts are used by vulnerable people such as children. Should doors open “unusually”, all passengers should “stay clear of the doors and wait for the lift to complete its journey”.

HSA inquiry
The lift in the three-storey Hynes office complex in St Augustine Street, Galway, will remain sealed-off for several more weeks. Solicitor for Ms Alibi, Gerry O'Donnell, said no date had as yet been set for an inquest, which would probably take place after the HSA inquiry was complete.

Ms Alibi, a Nigerian-born nurse who had arrived in Galway in late December, was visiting the Department of Social Protection with her four children, aged between seven years and two months, when her son got trapped in the lift.

Ms Alibi has said she hopes the authority's investigation will be made public, and this has been echoed by the father of her son, Dublin-based accountant Ade Soremekun.

Over two years ago, the authority also issued an alert to those responsible for safety of lifts, including employers, property managers, maintenance and inspection companies, after it initiated an investigation into a “catastrophic failure” where a lift car dropped four floors in an uncontrolled manner.

In that alert of September 5th, 2011, it noted such failures were “rare”, but highlighted the need to observe legal obligations, including six-monthly examinations.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times