Real-life H&S incidents

Big fine for airport after six-year old’s leg crushed

Written by Phoenix Health & Safety
12th January 2018

Birmingham Airport Limited has been fined £100,000 after a six-year-old boy got trapped in a baggage conveyor. Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard that the boy found his way into the mesh cage of the conveyor that delivers oversized items to the baggage reclaim area. The conveyor started and he was trapped by the machinery, suffering a crush injury to his leg and spending two nights in hospital.

The incident occurred on 4 September 2016, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found airport management had replaced a safety device with an arrangement that did not provide the same level of protection.

Birmingham Airport Limited of Bickenhill, Solihull, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and were fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,251.23. Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Geoffrey Brown said

“This case will serve as a reminder that risk assessments and guarding of machinery requires regular review and monitoring, especially where arrangements are altered. Had the airport assessed the changes properly these injuries could have been avoided”.

Phoenix comments:

The court heard that the youngster was with his father and partner in the baggage reclaim area and wandered over to the over-size baggage conveyor belt. Geoffrey Brown, prosecuting for Health and Safety, said:

“Where the conveyor met the flatbed of rollers... there was a gap. His foot and leg were drawn in and the grip caused the leg to be drawn in further".

He added that the airport could have taken a number of measures, including installing a totally enclosed cage which only opened when the luggage was being delivered. The company could also have staffed the area.

“The airport fell significantly short in that regard,”

he said.

“It was foreseeable that a child or vulnerable person might find their way into that gap.”

Mr Brown added that the previous safety arrangement was designed to stop the belt if a problem arose. It had been stopping the mechanism unnecessarily and was therefore replaced. District Judge Jan Jellema sai:

“The change to the cage structure may have provided a false reassurance of a substantial physical presence, but in reality it was open to the exploration of a six-year-old boy, perhaps bored or investigating, while waiting for his family’s baggage to arrive.”

Further guidance regarding work equipment and guarding is available from the HSE: Visit our Health & Safety at Work Award Certificate page for more information on Health & Safety in the workplace.