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Luton airport fined after Norfolk pensioner’s death

Date:
18 October 2013

Luton Airport and a design subcontractor have been ordered to pay a total of £372,595 in fines and costs for safety failings after an elderly lady was killed on a poorly designed and laid out pedestrian crossing.

Mary Whiting, 78, from Taverham in Norfolk, was crushed beneath the wheels of a 26 tonne milk lorry as she used a crossing between a terminal building and a passenger drop-off zone at the airport on 16 May 2009.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the crossing, designed by C-T Aviation Solutions Limited (C-TAS) and located on private land leased by the operators of LutonAirport, was poorly designed and did not conform to regulations that apply to public roads.

Luton Crown Court heard during a six-week trial (15 April – 31 May) that London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAOL) was responsible for maintaining the roads, parking enforcement and signage at the airport, including the land in question.

The crossing, part of a wider building project, was opened in March 2009.

LLAOL was served with an Improvement Notice on 17 July 2009 following Mrs Whiting’s death requiring changes relating to the safety of pedestrians and vehicles. Modifications were subsequently made.

London Luton Airport Operations Limited (LLAOL), of TBI House, Frank Lester Way, Luton, was fined a total of £75,000 and ordered to pay £197,595 in costs after being found guilty of breaching Sections 3(1) and 21 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Design subcontractor C-T Aviation Solutions Limited, of Glentham Road, Barnes, London was fined £70,000 with £30,000 in costs after being found guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 11 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

After sentencing, HSE Inspector Graham Tompkins said:

“London Luton Airport Operations Limited failed to take the proper steps to ensure the safety of vehicles and their passengers at the airport. Although the judge ruled that the design of the road was not a significant cause of Mary Whiting’s death, it did create a serious risk and the sentence imposed reflects the gravity of the offence.”

The driver of the milk lorry that crushed Mrs Whiting was separately acquitted of dangerous driving in September 2010.

Notes to Editors

1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk

2. Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”

3. Section 21 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 covers Improvement Notices. Further details here: Sec 21 overview

4. Regulation 3(1)(b) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states: “Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of (b) the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking.”

5. Regulation 11(3) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 states: “Every designer shall in preparing or modifying a design which may be used in construction work in Great Britain avoid foreseeable risks to the health and safety of any person (a) carrying out construction work; (b) liable to be affected by such construction work; (c) cleaning any window or any transparent or translucent wall, ceiling or roof in or on a structure; (d) maintaining the permanent fixtures and fittings of a structure; or (e) using a structure designed as a workplace.”

6. This is a revised press release.  It corrects errors made in earlier versions.  

7. Further HSE press notices are available at www.hse.gov.uk/press

 

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