This accident could have been far more serious and could easily have resulted in a fatality.
Two employees were working on either side of the tail of an aeroplane at Standsted airport in June 2015. They were using mobile elevated work platforms when another employee closed the wrong circuit breaker, inadvertently opening the plane’s airbrake, which knocked over both platforms.
The men fell between 10 to 15 feet. One employee suffered three fractures to his pelvis, a broken back, three broken ribs, a fractured elbow and a punctured right lung. The second man suffered a broken wrist and a chipped a bone on his spine.
This case draws attention to the general duties that an employer owes to their employees.
An employer had a general duty of care to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.
That duty extends to include in particular—
(a) the provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health;
(b) arrangements for ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, safety and absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances;
(c) the provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees;
(d) so far as is reasonably practicable as regards any place of work under the employer’s control, the maintenance of it in a condition that is safe and without risks to health and the provision and maintenance of means of access to and egress from it that are safe and without such risks;
(e) the provision and maintenance of a working environment for his employees that is, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe, without risks to health, and adequate as regards facilities and arrangements for their welfare at work.
The company, based at Stansted Airport, pleaded guilty to breaches under Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,492.90.
The case highlights how an accident can be avoided if the appropriate measures had been in place.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that no suitable risk assessment was in place and there was a lack of effective monitoring. Speaking after the case, HSE Inspector Tania van Rixtel said: “Both of these men suffered shocking injuries after falling from height, which could easily have been a double fatality. Our investigation found the incident could have been avoided had adequate monitoring been taking place. Aircraft maintenance companies are reminded that not all risks are covered by the Aircraft Maintenance Manual and additional measures need to be introduced.”