British Airways has been fined £1.8 million over health and safety breaches, sparked by a 2018 incident in which an employee was injured after being crushed by a tug vehicle at Heathrow Airport.
On 16 March 2018, a British Airways employee was hit by a tug that was pulling a train of dollies outside Terminal 5, and was subsequently knocked under another passing tug with dollies loaded with luggage.
The employee sustained “serious crush injuries”, according to reports, and the incident was investigated by the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
The investigation found that the employee was injured while using the centre of the roadway between the two lanes as a ‘walking route’, which was commonplace for the airline’s ground services workers.
The HSE told the Southwark Crown Court that the practice of walking between the two provided lanes was unsafe, and that British Airways was in breach of health and safety regulations.
The investigation also identified significant failings in the general management of health and safety and workplace transport risks, including issues relating to supervision and monitoring, risk assessment and training, according to the HSE.
HSE inspector Megan Carr said, “The situation in the baggage hall at Heathrow Terminal 5 was an incident waiting to happen.
“British Airways failed to appreciate the serious nature of the risks to which its employees were exposed and as a result failed to take appropriate action to ensure they were properly protected.”
British Airways ultimately pleaded guilty before the Court to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and was fined £1.8 million.
The court also ordered the airline to pay costs of £35,724.
When asked for comment, a British Airways spokesperson said, “The safety of our colleagues and crew is always our priority and we deeply regret that this incident was able to occur, despite the measures we had in place.
“We’ve been working hard to learn from this experience and implement further improvements to our safety procedures.”