• 29 Apr 2024

Worker crushed at London Heathrow Airport

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conducted an investigation after an employee of Dnata Ltd was crushed to death at London Heathrow Airport on the 23rd February 2022.

The incident occurred during the unloading of baggage containers from an Emirates Airbus which had arrived from Dubai. The employee walked underneath a high loader (a raised platform similar to a scissor lift) in order to access the other side of a trailer. At the same time the high-loader operator lowered one of its two hydraulically operated platforms, which trapped then fatally crushed the employee.

A spindle locking mechanism used to secure containers onto the baggage trailer was broken at the time of the incident. It is believed that this prompted the employee to move underneath the high-loader to access the other side of the trailer in an attempt to operate the locking mechanism from that position.

The HSE investigation found that the high-loader operators’ visibility of the area underneath the rear of the platform was almost completely obscured. Dnata Limited (a ground handling and cargo services company) had no warning sensors on the high-loaders which would have detected the employee underneath the raised platform. Additionally there were no mandatory communication systems in place to ensure operators were notified when it was safe to lower the platforms.

The investigation also found records that another employee had reported the spindle locking mechanism defect more than two weeks before the incident and the trailer should have been removed from service for repair. The defects were not entered into the company’s maintenance system, and was therefore available for use on the night of the incident.

Dnata Limited, of Dakota House, Poyle Road, Colnbrook, Berkshire pleaded guilty to breaches of Regulation 8(1) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 and Regulation 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay £6,494.25 in costs at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 17 April 2024.

HSE inspector Gordon Carson said: “Although Dnata had identified a risk of employees being crushed by the platforms of high-loaders, the measures it had put in place before this incident occurred failed to ensure that work in close proximity to these machines could be carried out safely. Numerous hazards exist during airport ground handling activities and companies providing these services should ensure their activities comply with UK health and safety legislation.” Click here to read the full HSE story

Companies have a legal responsibility to ensure that risk assessments are carried out and adhered to. Additionally employers should ensure that workplace equipment is in good condition, fit for purpose, positioned or installed in such a way as to reduce risk and work is appropriately supervised at all times.

PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998) requires workplace equipment (such as baggage trailers) to be safe for use, maintained in a safe condition and regularly inspected for faults or defects.

LOLER (Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998) requires companies to manage and control lifting operations by planning them properly, using people who are sufficiently competent, supervise them to ensure that they are carried out in a safe manner.

Regularly reviewing machinery and equipment as part of a preventative maintenance and safety regime will help spot hazards and ensure equipment is maintained in safe working order. Inspections ensure that engineers can take action before faults cause minor injury, serious harm or death.

TakeAIM is a safety inspection and maintenance APP (free on both GooglePlay and App Store) enables companies to complete inspections of absolutely ANY equipment type. Coupled with a web platform, TakeAIM provides analysis, visibility and insights to help companies manage workplace equipment. Each inspection is automatically sent to management via wifi (inspections can be completed without wifi - once connection is re-established) with the ability to attach photos or annotations to provide additional information on faults or advisories found.

The web platform also hosts a maintenance log which allows you to easily monitor the time taken to resolve issues, keep track of who is responsible and even keep a record of replacement parts ordered. Registering an account takes a minute, plus you'll have access to the system for 30 days completely free (no credit card details required). If you find TakeAIM useful and wish to stay with us after the free trial, the good news is that TakeAIM credit bundles start at an amazing £10 for 25 inspections. Click here to view all our pricing bundles.

Our customers have used the TakeAIM for completing all manner of obscure equipment inspections (from tow tractors, snow mobiles to wacker plates and combine harvesters) as a result of how easy it is to create their own checklists.

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