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IKEA lift mechanic did not follow standard safety procedure, inquest hears

Spanish contractor was killed at IKEA Reading store two years ago 

Fiona Tomas

Fiona Tomas

fiona.tomas@newburynews.co.uk

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01635 886639

IKEA death under investigation

A LIFT mechanic who was crushed by a lift in Calcot’s IKEA store did not follow standard procedures, an inquest heard.

Joaquin Palacio Fernandez, aged 41, a senior mechanic who worked for Spanish lift company Quiver, was killed instantly when the hydraulic lift fell on him at around 2.30am on 19 October, 2016.

A post-mortem revealed Mr Fernandez died of traumatic asphyxia – caused when a heavy weight presses down on the chest, making breathing impossible.

A jury inquest, held at Reading Town Hall, concluded today (Wednesday) that Mr Fernandez's death was through misadventure.

The three-day inquest heard how Mr Fernandez and his colleague, Manuel Gomez de Sola, were changing an emergency brake panel, light switch and electrical socket on the store’s only hydraulic lift.

While on the first floor, Mr De Sola turned to fetch some tools he needed to disable the lift and the doors of the lift closed behind him, before it began descending towards the ground floor, where Mr Fernandez was stationed.

Despite the doors of the lift being open on the ground floor – where Mr Fernandez was stationed – the lift was able to descend because Mr Fernandez had put in place a blue-wire ‘bridge’ in the lift’s control box before Mr de Sola had arrived on site.

A combination of the silent hydraulics, store music and a noisy air conditioning unit nearby suggested the 41-year-old never heard the lift as it descended on him.

CCTV footage obtained by Thames Valley Police moments before the mechanic was about to be crushed was shown to the jury.

The video shows how Mr Fernandez, who has climbed into the lift pit at the bottom of the shaft, made no sudden movement, suggesting he did not know what was about to happen.

A police officer’s report said it was “entirely plausible” that Mr Fernandez would not have heard the lift descend.

The court also heard that Mr Fernandez had not checked and approved that he had complete control of the lift – which was not faulty – indicating human error played a significant role in the tragedy.

The court also heard from independent lift investigator Martin Banasik, who verified there was no fault with the lift.

West Berkshire Council representative Abi Stinson also said Mr Fernandez was aware of the safety procedures as he had signed various documents before starting his shift.

She also suggested that it would have been safer had the “senior” lift mechanic ensured the electricity supplying the lift at the mains had been isolated.

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