Worker crushed by hangar door at Luton Airport

Signature Flight Support, a company that handles private jets at London Luton Airport in Bedfordshire has been sentenced after an employee was crushed by a hangar door.

Suzi Dorbon, 47, an aircraft mover, became trapped between two sections of a door as she prepared to move aircraft inside Hangar 219 on 28 April 2015.  Her severe crush injuries caused brain damage and she remains in a vegetative state at the Marbrook Centre in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, St Albans Crown Court was told.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation concluded that the company had failed to adequately plan the aircraft movement and had not provided its staff with proper training or written instructions.

According to an ITV report, Signature gave staff short training sessions on how to operate the hangar’s doors after they were fitted in April 2014. However, the risk assessment had not identified the possibility of being crushed by the doors.

Judge Andrew Bright said:

“In particular, staff were not told of a specific distance to stand back from the doors when operating them, nor were they provided with any follow-up or refresher training.”

He added that proper supervision and monitoring would have made it “apparent that the ways in which some employees were moving the doors were unsafe and that the staff needed to be provided with further training and instruction to prevent unsafe methods of work from becoming commonplace”.

It was only after the accident that the company painted yellow markings on the floor to keep employees away from the hangar doors, increased the number of warning signs in the area, introduced a new guidebook on how to open and close the hangar doors safely, provided staff with refresher training, and regularly reviewed its closed circuit television footage to monitor the doors’ use.

Signature Flight Support pleaded guilty to breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was handed a £250,000 penalty and ordered to pay costs of almost £20,000 within 28 days.

After the hearing HSE inspector Andrew McGill said:

“The injured person’s family has been left devastated after this incident. Her husband gave up work to care for her daily and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

If a safe system of work had been in place prior to this incident, it could have prevented the life-changing injuries sustained by the employee.”

British Safety Council has a new Chairman

Mike Robinson, chief executive of the British Safety Council, has announced the appointment of health and safety campaigner Lawrence Waterman, as the new chairman of the organisation.

Lynda Armstrong OBE, the current chair of the British Safety Council who has held the position since October 2010, will retire on 24 November 2017 after seven years in the post.

Lawrence Waterman OBE CFIOSH was formerly head of health and safety at the London Olympic Delivery Authority and the Battersea Power Station development, a past president of IOSH, a visiting professor at Loughborough University, and is a founding partner at the Park Health and Safety Partnership.

He was appointed OBE for services to health and safety in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Honours.


Asbestos exposure

During a school refurbishment in Waltham Forest, workers were exposed to asbestos. Three companies have been fined a total of more than £1m.

During the refurbishment of St Mary’s School, on 24 July 2012 a worker removed part of a suspended ceiling in one of the ground floor rooms and identified suspect asbestos containing materials. Asbestos fibres were subsequently found in numerous areas in the school.

Southwark Crown Court heard that the London Borough of Waltham Forest had a contract with NPS London Limited to manage development and refurbishment of its estate. At the time of the incident the Principal Contractor for the work was Mansell Construction Services (aka Balfour Beatty) and the subcontractor was Squibb Group Limited.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that although an asbestos survey was completed, there were multiple caveats and disclaimers which were not appropriately checked.

Balfour Beatty Regional Construction Limited (previously Mansell Construction Services Limited) of Canary Wharf, London was fined £500,000 and ordered to pay costs of £32,364.84 after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

NPS London Limited, of Business Park Norwich, Norfolk was fined £370,000 and ordered to pay £32,364.84 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Squibb Group Limited, of Stanford Le Hope, Essex was fined £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £175,000 after being found guilty after a trial of a breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Sarah Robinson said:

“The principal contractor and contractors on site did not review the survey report in detail, and did not take into consideration the multitude of caveats.

Therefore the work undertaken did not adopt the high standards of control expected for working where there was the potential to expose workers to asbestos.”

Crossrail contractor fined £1m following incidents

Three companies that were established to support the Crossrail tunnel construction have been fined a total of more than £1m following three separate incidents on the project, including the death of a worker.

The incidents were heard at Southwark Crown Court.

Renè Tkáčik, 43 from Slovakia, died after being crushed by falling wet concrete on 7 March 2014. He was working in a team that were enlarging the tunnel by removing rings of the existing pilot tunnel and spraying walls with liquid concrete. During this operation, a section of the roof collapsed, fatally crushing him.

Two other men were injured following separate incidents within six days of one another, on 16 and 22 January 2015. All three incidents took place in the tunnels around the Fisher Street area.

On 16 January 2015 Terence ‘Ian’ Hughes was collecting some equipment from inside one of the tunnels when he was struck by a reversing excavator. He suffered severe fractures to his right leg and crush injuries to his left knee and shin.

Six days later worker Alex Vizitiu, who was part of a team tasked with spraying liquid concrete lining, was assisting with the cleaning of the pipes that supply the concrete. Due to a lack of communication one of the lines was disconnected and he was hit by pressurised water and concrete debris. He suffered head and hip injuries as well as a broken finger and was hospitalised for six days.

The three workers were operating under Bam Ferrovial Kier (BFK), an unincorporated joint venture made up of three companies; BAM Nuttall Limited, Ferrovial Agroman (UK) Limited and Kier Infrastructure and Overseas Ltd.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found a failure to provide a safe system of work relating to the operations Renè Tkáčik and Alex Vizitiu were working on. It was also found there was a failure to properly maintain the excavator which reversed into Ian Hughes.

On all three occasions, the investigation found a failure to properly enforce exclusion zones that would have helped protect workers from foreseeable harm.

Bam Ferrovial Keir, of the corner of Charterhouse Street and Farringdon Road, London has pleaded guilty to three offences. In relation to the death of Renè Tkáčik, it has admitted to breaching Regulation 10(2) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. It has today been fined £300,000 in relation to this offence.

BFK has pleaded guilty to two separate breaches of Section 22 (1a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, relating to the two incidents in January 2015. The joint venture has been fined a £600,000 for the incident involving Ian Hughes on 16 January, and £165,000 for the incident relating to Alex Vizitiu on 22 January.

The total fine is therefore £1,065,000. The defendant was also ordered to pay costs of £42,337.28.

HSE Head of Operations Annette Hall said:

“The omission to implement exclusion zones in a high hazard environment was a consistent failure in this case. Had simple measures such as these been taken, all three incidents could have been prevented, and Renè Tkáčik may not have died.

We believe every person should be healthy and safe at work. Here, all three workers were taking part in one of the most important and challenging infrastructure projects of the decade. It was this joint venture’s duty to protect its dedicated and highly-skilled workforce. On these three occasions, BFK failed in its duty, with tragic consequences for Renè Tkáčik and his family.”

NHS Trust receives another fine

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust has been fined £1m following the death of 53-year-old John Biggadike, who suffered internal injuries after falling onto an exposed metal post at Pilgrim Hospital in Boston.

Lincoln Crown Court heard that Mr Biggadike, who was a patient at the hospital, died on 10 April 2012.  The internal injuries were caused after he fell onto an exposed metal post on the standing aid hoist that staff were using to support him.  The exposed post part of the kneepad, which had been removed leaving it exposed.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the Trust did not have systems for training and monitoring how staff used the standing aid hoist and unsafe practices had developed.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, of Trust Headquarters, Lincoln County Hospital, Greetwell Road, Lincoln, was found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. It was fined £1 million and ordered to repay £160,000 in costs.

The trust has also been ordered to pay £3800 to Mr Biggadike’s family to cover the costs of the funeral.

In his statement John Biggadike’s brother Keith said:

“John didn’t deserve to die the way that he did. One day I had a brother and the next I didn’t. “


Harvey Wild, Operations Manager for the HSE said:

“First of all, our thoughts remain with John Biggadike’s family. This was a tragic and preventable death.

If staff had received effective training and monitoring in the use of the standing aid hoist Mr Biggadike’s death could have been avoided.”