Stately home charity fined almost £300,000 after lift tragedy

The Burghley House Preservation Trust pleaded guilty to breaking the Health and Safety at Work Act after a butler working at the premises was crushed to death by a lift

Burghley House
Burghley House

The charity overseeing a stately home in Lincolnshire has been ordered to pay almost £300,000 after a butler working at the premises was crushed to death by a lift.

The Burghley House Preservation Trust pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 at a hearing at Peterborough Crown Court last month after it emerged that vital safety equipment was missing from a luggage lift in the 16th-century house.

The Health and Safety Executive said in a statement that Arthur Mellar, aged 48, was killed on 12 July 2014 while he was attempting to free a piece of luggage that had become stuck in a luggage lift used to help move guests’ bags from the ground floor to the second floor, and which was causing it to jam.

As Mellar pulled the bag free, the lift dropped on him, trapping him between the lift cage and the banister of the stairwell housing the lift, causing fatal injuries.

Examination of the lift found it was not fitted with a slack rope detector, which would have prevented the tragedy, and identified other concerns that the HSE said would have been picked up and investigated further if the lift had been properly assessed by a competent lift engineer.

The charity was fined £266,000 and ordered to pay costs of £16,863.

Alison Ashworth, an HSE inspector, said: "This was a completely avoidable incident, and Burghley House admitted its role in it – but of course that will be little comfort for Mr Mellar’s family.

"I would urge any business using lifts, particularly older lifts such as the one in this case, to ensure correct measures are taken in relation to maintenance of lifts and that competent lift engineers are employed when necessary to identify defects."

No one from the Burghley House Preservation Trust was available to comment before Third Sector’s deadline.

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