Cardiff care home criticised over fatal health and safety incident

Health and safety training standards at a care home in Cardiff have come under scrutiny after an elderly patient died and a carer was injured falling down a lift shaft.

96-year-old May Lewis lost her life in the incident at the Pontcanna House care home, which took place last year. Carer Carole Conway used an emergency key to open the lift doors, not noticing that the lift platform was still on the ground floor. She fell backwards into the 20ft lift shaft, pulling Ms Lewis’ wheelchair after her. The 96-year-old died, and Ms Conway was seriously injured.

An inquest into the incident headed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that staff at the home were using the emergency-release key for the lift whenever the top-floor landing door failed to open, which apparently happened a lot.

The manager of the home Ali Al-Mufti said he did not realise that this was happening or even that there was a fault with the lift. He also failed to notice the yellow warning label marked ‘dangerous’ on the emergency key, indicating that it should not be used except in an emergency.

Mr Al-Mufti admitted that he had not read the safety manual that came with the lift, which would have enabled him to give staff members the right health and safety training they needed to operate the lift properly.