Three companies that failed to take responsibility for managing traffic at the X2 Hatton Cross Centre, located next to London Heathrow Airport, have collectively been handed fines totaling £550,000 after a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) driver sustained serious crush injuries in August 2017.
The driver was caught between another HGV that was reversing at the time and a forklift truck at the warehouse site, which is owned by Brixton (Hatton Cross) 1 Limited and managed by Segro Administration Limited.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the HGV driver – a Davies Turner Air Cargo Limited employee – had arrived at Airworld Airlines Ltd’s site at the X2 Hatton Cross Centre on 29 August 2017 to collect a consignment when the incident happened.
After the employee exited the vehicle, he was caught between the rear of a reversing HGV operated by a driver from Saints Transport Limited and a forklift truck operated by an Airworld Airlines Ltd employee. The Saints Transport vehicle driver had just collected a consignment from Unilode Aviation Solutions UK and was leaving the site, the HSE investigation found.
The driver sustained a number of injuries – a dislocated and fractured pelvis as well as ligament and tendon damage to the lower torso.
Training and procedures
After visiting the site, the HSE concluded that Segro Administration had failed to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that the site layout segregated those working or visiting the site from moving vehicles operating in the shared warehouse space.
The OSH regulator also found that none of the defendants – Segro Administration, Airworld Airlines and Unilode Aviation Solutions UK had communicated, co-operated or coordinated with one another on how to manage traffic safely.
Prosecution, sentencing and learnings
Segro Administration Limited, of New Burlington Place, London, pleaded guilty to breaching s 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. The company was fined £320,000 at Southwark Crown Court on 1 November and ordered to pay £17,584 in costs.
Airworld Airlines Ltd, of High Street, Sunninghill, Ascot, Berkshire, and Unilode Aviation Solutions UK Limited, of Hatton Cross Centre, Heathrow, Middlesex, both pleaded guilty to breaching ss 2(1) and 3(1) of the HSW Act.
At the court hearing, Airwold Airlines was handed a £120,000 fine and ordered to pay £17,605 in costs. Unilode Aviation Solutions UK was fined £110,000 and ordered to pay £10,878 in costs.
After securing the guilty pleas, the HSE reconsidered the charges brought against Brixton (Hatton Cross) 1 Limited, Saints Transport Limited and Davies Turner Air Cargo Limited.
The prosecution decided that it was no longer in the public interest to continue with their cases and the defendants were found not guilty.
After the incident, the HSE had served an improvement notice on Brixton (Hatton Cross) 1 Limited to ensure that pedestrians and vehicles circulate in a safe manner. In response, the site layout was changed and it now includes additional barriers, walkways and signage.
The HSE notes that regular meetings are also held between all of the duty-holders that operate at the site so that any health and safety issues can be raised with Segro Administration Limited.
Speaking after the case, HM Acting Principal Inspector Sarah Pearce, said: 'Where reasonably practicable, reversing manoeuvres should be avoided and pedestrians and moving vehicles segregated.
'Where businesses share a workplace, as in this case, they should ensure that there are systems in place for sufficient communication, co-operation and co-ordination so that others are aware of the risks arising from their undertaking.'
The HSE notes that workplace transport incidents account for 50 fatal injuries in Great Britain every year, with 5,000 other incidents resulting in serious personal injury.