Engineer fined 160k for workers' 4.5m fall off airplane tail

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An aircraft engineering firm based at Stanstead airport has been fined £160,000 after two men suffered broken bones when the platforms they were working on were knocked over.

Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard the men were carrying out checks at the tail of an aeroplane at Stanstead, on the day of the incident, 10 June 2015.

One man, an employee of Inflite Engineering Services and an agency worker, had been working either side of the tail on mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPs).

But another employee closed the wrong circuit breaker, unintentionally opening the plane’s airbrake, which knocked over both platforms.

The men fell between 3 and 4.5m, resulting in extensive injuries. The first worker, a 62-year-old man, suffered three fractures to his pelvis, a broken back, three broken ribs, a fractured elbow and a punctured right lung. The second man, 60, suffered a broken wrist and a chipped a bone on his spine.

HSE’s investigation found there had been no suitable risk assessment and a lack of effective monitoring. Investigating 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.”

Inflite Engineering Limited, of Inflite House, Stansted Airport, Essex, pleaded guilty to breaches under Sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The company was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,492.90 at the sentencing on 15 March 2017.

Inflite Engineering Services posted a turnover of £33.9m according to its latest accounts.


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