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Three firms face £232,000 fines for Exeter lift shaft incident

Three companies have been fined £232,000 after two workers in Exeter fell four storeys down a lift shaft.

Ricki Slocombe, 35, and Matthew Blackmore, 29, were severely injured when a wooden platform collapsed on the building site of a new student accommodation block at Exeter University.

The former Elmfield Nursery site in New North Road was the scene of the incident, which took place in February 2008. The companies were taken to court by the Health and Safety Executive.

Exeter Crown Court ordered Cowlin Construction Ltd to pay £85,000 in fines and £20,000 in costs. Prestoplan Ltd, a timber-frame building provider, was fined £50,000 and ordered to pay £20,000 in costs.

Somerset Carpenters Ltd, meanwhile, which supplied labour at the site, was fined £35,000 and a further £22,000 in costs. The firm had been served a prohibition notice by the Health and Safety Executive, banning them from working until safety measures had been installed around the lift shaft.

The wooden platform was then erected over the shaft, but this collapsed two weeks later while Mr Slocombe and Mr Blackmore were working.

Mr Blackmore’s back was broken, while Mr Slocombe suffered two broken legs, being confined to a wheelchair for several months.

All three firms pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

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