Damages of £750,000 are sought by injured engineer

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A LIFT engineer is demanding damages of £750,000 after a platform collapsed beneath him, sending him and a colleague plunging seven metres to the floor below.

The platform collapsed because it had been overloaded, and a chain link broke, sending the two men to the bottom of the lift shaft at Halton Heights in Priory Road.

George Harrison, 36, suffered multiple injuries including fractures to his face, left shoulder and right leg, and lost six teeth in the accident on April 15, 2008.

He needed surgery to insert five plates and screws in his face, and is now self-conscious about scarring on his lip and chin, which has affected his self-confidence and curtailed his social life.

His appearance may be improved by complex plastic surgery carried out at the same time as work on his teeth, according to a High Court writ. He also needed operations on his right leg and left shoulder, and may need a total knee replacement within the next seven years.

Now Mr Harrison, of Thamesmead, London, is suing his employers Otis for damages of £750,000. He brands the company negligent.

Otis was replacing an old lift at the flats with a new system, and senior employee Nathan Tully decided to build a platform, like a skeleton lift with a floor but no walls, to remove machinery from the old lift, the writ says.

The two men were loading machinery on to the platform when it gave way and fell to the bottom of the shaft, and investigations later showed the platform was overloaded with a weight of 1.57 tonnes instead of the one tonne it was designed for, it is alleged.

A Health and Safety Executive report said the accident was caused when the hoist failed because its load was too heavy, the safety governor was not correctly installed, and Tully might have been confused about his training and instructions. Mr Harrison was sacked on medical grounds by Otis, and is unlikely to be able to return to work which needs him to stand for long periods, climb ladders or stairs, squat or kneel, carry heavy weights, or walk on uneven surfaces.

He is very significantly disadvantaged on the open labour market, the writ says.