• Robert Spicer

Airbus Death: Recent Prosecution

Airbus death: £200,000 fine

Health and Safety Executive v Airbus Operations Ltd (2014) Mold Crown Court, July 17

Airbus has been fined following the death of an employee by crushing.

Significant points of the case

  • In November 2011 Donny Willliams, an employee of Airbus, was working at the company’s site in Broughton. He was told to fit a fertiliser spreader to the back of a tractor as part of a trial to spread de-icer onto the site’s runway.

  • He was crushed between the tractor and the spreader and suffered fatal injuries.

  • Williams and his colleagues in the maintenance department had been given no training in driving, maintaining or attaching equipment to tractors and lacked understanding of tractor controls.

  • Airbus did not have a safe system of work for attaching equipment to tractors. No risk assessment for the work had been carried out. None of the fitters in the department knew of the existence of an operator’s manual for the tractor. They used a trial and error approach to find the correct operations.

  • The death could have been avoided if the well-known safe-stop industry practice had been adopted by making sure that the handbrake was fully applied, all controls and equipment were in neutral, the engine was stopped and the key removed.

The company was fined £200,000 plus £58,000 costs under section 2, HSW Act, for failing to ensure the health and safety of employees.

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