Leading Airline Has Its Wings Clipped After Worker Fall

| General

On the final day of the official Christmas season and the twelfth night, the 6th of January 2023 a leading major airline had their proverbial wings clipped over an incident whereby a member of the workforce suffered a serious fall from a significant height and sustained substantial head injuries. British Airways openly admitted its failings in the Magistrates Court sitting in Cardiff and it was handed down a financial penalty in the amount of just over pounds.    

What Happened In The Case?

The male member of the workforce was tasked with examining wings at its business premises in the city of Cardiff. The day was progressing without incident, was like any other day, and was positioned on a platform used for docking purposes. However, matters appear to have taken a dark turn for the worse when the inspector seems to have fallen through an exposed space and sustained incredibly serious injuries to his head in the form of a brain haemorrhage and several breaks. These injuries were not the end of the matter for the  As a result of the fall he also sustained breaks to his collar bone, scapula, bones in his back, and some of his ribs. The inspector survived the fall, however, it has not been possible for him to make a return to the working environment.     

What Did The Health and Safety Executive Say?

When the HSE investigated it was particularly damning of the conduct exhibited by the leading airline as it appears on the evidence that it had moved barricades out of the way from the docking platform which led to the member of the workforce sustaining the injuries as a result of the fall from height. The regulator was also critical of the leading airline business over its apparent failure to sufficiently carry out any form of assessment as to risk to the working environment. The airline had neither taken any steps to return the barricades to their rightful place nor had they made a conscious effort to ensure the barricades are not taken away. In the face of the proceedings in Cardiff Magistrates Court, the airline business entered admissions to criminal charges under section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This legislation obliges businesses employing staff to reasonably safeguard the health and safety of the members of the workforce. It was scathing over the business’s behavior in not following the correct procedures and neglecting to conduct control measures. The HSE further commented that it wanted to send out the message to businesses in this sector that it will not delay in imposing Health and Safety legislation if they fail to measure up to the appropriate level.   

Feet to the Fire?

When the case eventually made its way to the Magistrates Court in Cardiff the justices seem to have put the allegations to the representatives of the business and when they did so the business submitted admissions to contraventions of its duties to protect the health and safety of members of the workforce as laid down under section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974,  In light of the findings the Magistrates in Cardiff imposed a financial sanction in the amount of a quarter of a million pounds onto the offending business.       

Lessons Learned?

Legal professionals advising businesses in this sector should consider the following steps to reduce the likelihood of further incidents taking place: 

  • safeguarding the health and welfare of its workforce
  • ensuring barricades are in place, put back, secure, and suitable for the job of preventing falls
  • not allowing there to be exposed spaces where the risk of falls is high and
  • implementing risk assessments to reduce the likelihood of an impact of such events taking place.  


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[SOURCE 1] Health and Safety Executive – Fine for BA subsidiary after father of two left in a coma following fall at work – 6th January 2023 - Fine for BA subsidiary after father of two left in a coma following fall at work | HSE Media Centre

[SOURCE 2] Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 

[SOURCE 3] HSE – Preventing falls from height during aircraft maintenance - SIM 05/2002/52 preventing falls from height during aircraft maintenance - Previously SIM 07/2002/07 and 03/2002/13 (hse.gov.uk)



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