Nottingham

Fine after escalator rips off man's toe in shopping centre

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Shopping centre managers have been fined £75,000 for health and safety breaches after a man had his big toe ripped off by an escalator.

Michael Reddington, who was 24 when the accident happened in March 2012, has had to learn to walk again and still experiences pain from his injuries.

His foot became trapped because part of the escalator in Nottingham's West End Arcade was missing.

Managing agents Hodgson Elkington LLP must pay £125,000 including costs.

Image copyright Nottingham City Council
Image caption Poor lighting in the shopping arcade meant Michael Reddington did not notice the "riser" part of the escalator was missing

The missing part had been absent for at least a day before the accident, creating a gap.

Mr Reddington did not notice the hazard due to poor lighting, and his foot was then crushed between a step and the escalator platform.

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Bernard Thorogood, prosecuting, said there was "real potential for a much more serious, if not fatal, injury".

"The public were at risk," he said. "It was a matter of pure chance whose foot or leg went into that gap."

Image copyright Chris Leggett
Image caption Mr Reddington lost his big toe and two of the toes next to it were permanently damaged

Nottingham Crown Court heard there had been no inspection of the escalator between October 2010 and the accident in March 2012.

The prosecution said the escalator was past its useful life in 2010.

Mr Thorogood said it was not regularly inspected, adding there was a "lack of effective management leading to a range of risks".

Image copyright Nottingham City Council
Image caption The moving escalator ripped through Michael Reddington's shoe

Mr Reddington, now 27, said: "It's hard to explain the pain to people because it's such an unusual thing to happen.

"Everyone knows the pain of stubbing their toe but not everyone knows the pain of having their toe ripped off by an escalator.

"It was trapped in this piece of machinery that was going for a few minutes."

Image caption Hodgson Elkington LLP, managing agents for the West End Arcade, admitted health and safety breaches

In addition to one of his big toes being completely ripped off, the two toes next to it were permanently damaged and the flesh on his foot was torn away.

He was initially in hospital for two weeks and had five operations under general anaesthetic, he was then required to return to hospital twice a week for three months.

The accident also left mental scars as he still experiences flashbacks.

"That day will stay with me forever," he said.

Image caption Michael Reddington's foot became trapped between one of the escalator steps and the platform at the top

Hodgson Elkington LLP admitted failing to maintain the machine properly and failing to ensure it was in a safe condition. They also admitted that systems to monitor safety on a daily basis were ineffective.

Defence lawyer Tom Gent said the incident was a matter of "significant embarrassment" to the company.

"They are truly sorry for the dreadful injuries that were caused to Michael Reddington and are extremely apologetic that this was allowed to happen," said Mr Gent.

Image caption The escalator in the West End Arcade has subsequently been replaced with stairs

Judge Andrew Hamilton said: "The escalator was known to the defendants to be beyond its sell-by date and they did nothing.

"The defendant clearly forgot their duty in relation to the escalator."

How safe are escalators?

Image copyright Thinkstock

The Health and Safety Executive does not keep data on accidents involving escalators, but a search through news reports suggests incidents like this are rare in the UK.

However, there appears to have been a recent spate of people being crushed in escalators in China.

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