Teen says lift accident wrecked her dreams

Morgan Seaton hurt her back and wrist in the lift shaft fall. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Morgan Seaton hurt her back and wrist in the lift shaft fall. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A TEENAGER seriously injured after she fell 20ft down a school lift shaft has told how the accident wrecked her chances of her dream job.

Morgan Seaton spoke out after Edinburgh council was fined £8000 for breaching health and safety regulations at Liberton High School.

The 18-year-old revealed she was also forced to leave school at the start of fifth year after suffering panic attacks whenever she passed its lift.

She said the fine levied on the council at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday was a small penalty given “all that I went through”.

The teenager was 15 when she suffered three broken vertebrae, bruising to her back and a sprained wrist after tumbling down the lift shaft on December 8, 2011.

Morgan and three other pupils had been trapped in the lift and alerted members of staff to their plight. Instead of calling a lift engineer, the staff attempted their own rescue, but Morgan fell through a gap between the bottom of the lift and the floor.

Morgan, who lives in Cameron Toll, said: “When your back is damaged you’re going to suffer problems throughout your life and that will be the situation for me.

“I had to give up a career in hairdressing, which was my dream, because I wouldn’t have been able to do all the standing and bending required. My back just wouldn’t have taken it. It was very disappointing, because it’s what I wanted to do, but I got a full-time job in Ikea and I love it.”

Morgan spent two days being treated at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and did not return to school for another two weeks. She was unable to sit for long periods, making studying for exams difficult.

She said: “When I went back to school I had panic attacks every time I passed a lift. The accident left me no longer interested in school and I basically gave up. It was difficult to get through my Standard Grades at the end of fourth year and when I went back in fifth year I didn’t want to stay. The accident had a big impact on my life.”

Morgan was only saved from serious injury because she was wearing wellies which stopped her ankles being shattered. The city council was fined £8000 after pleading guilty to a breach of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. The council failed to make a suitable risk assessment to the health and safety of lift users, and failed to provide sufficient training to employees over how to act if anyone became trapped.

Morgan said: “I expected the council to take full responsibility and they did. I don’t think £8000 is a lot of money for all that I went through. I would certainly hope the council have put regulations in place to stop the same thing from happening to anyone else.”

A council spokesman said policy has been changed so people trapped will only be freed by trained lift engineers.

She said: “We accept full responsibility and apologise unreservedly. We have now put in place measures at all schools with lifts.”

Hazel Dobb, a Health and Safety Executive inspector, said: “The teachers were well intentioned in their attempts to help, but had they received suitable guidance on how to deal with trapped people in lifts they would have called for help.”