NEWS: Baggage handler fined £500k for two injuries at Luton Airport

Airport baggage and cargo handler Swissport GB Limited has been fined £500,000 after two workers were injured in separate incidents in 2015 while loading and offloading baggage from aircraft at Luton Airport.

Luton Crown Court heard how the first man had been working as a ramp agent for the firm on the day of the incident, 23 June 2015. He and his team had been unloading bags from an aircraft using a flatbed lorry and a belt loader.

While standing on the back of the flatbed, the worker directed a colleague to take the bags to the airport inbound terminal. The colleague climbed into the cab of the flatbed, checked his mirrors and drove away not realising the team leader was still on the vehicle when it drove away.

The worker fell off the moving vehicle onto the ground sustaining bruising and damage to his spine, leaving him off work for eight weeks.

In the second incident, which occurred on 9 September 2015, a team leader and employee of the firm, had been trying to reach a high-loader via a ladder when he fell backwards, suffering a foot injury.

The court heard how, during the night shift, he had been climbing the access ladder in order to reach the platform of the high-loader which lifts cargo up to the aircraft hold and extends to approximately 9 metres.

One of his feet slipped and he fell backwards to the ground suffering an impact injury to his right foot.

Luton Crown Court heard that Swissport GB Limited had not assessed the risk or implemented a safe system of work to address the risk of employees falling from the rear of flatbed vehicles being driven away with workers still on the flatbed.

The court heard that Swissport had failed to ensure that work at height on high-loaders was properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out in a safe manner.

Swissport GB Ltd of Swissport House Hampton Court, Manor Park, Runcorn, Cheshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2 (1) and 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work1974 and Regulation 4 (1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and has been fined £502,000 and ordered to pay costs of £44,444.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Emma Page said: “Employers should be aware of their legal duty to protect the health and safety of their employees and those not in their employment. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”