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December 7, 2010

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Repair man injured in Heathrow hangar fall

An aircraft maintenance worker suffered injuries to his face and knees following a two-metre fall in a hangar at Heathrow Airport.

John Nicholas, 59, was employed by aircraft maintenance company Messier Services Ltd, and was replacing the landing gear at the front of an A340 aircraft when the incident happened on 1 September 2008.

Mr Nicholas and a colleague had clamped the landing gear on to a pallet, which was resting on the forks of a forklift truck. They were attempting to align the barrel of the landing gear with the socket on the underside of the aircraft.
During the operation, Mr Nicholas realised the alignment was not correct and knelt down on the pallet to reposition the landing gear. While he was on the platform the forklift suddenly reversed causing the pallet to drop to the floor. Mr Nicholas fell too, fracturing his kneecap and suffering significant injuries to the left side of his face.

Messier Services was issued two Improvement Notices by the HSE on 21 November 2008, which required it to carry out a risk assessment and review its work-at-height procedures. HSE inspector Steve Kirton revealed the work was not properly planned and the pallet being used did not have a proper adjustment to help align the landing gear and the socket on the underside of the aircraft.

The company appeared at the City of London Magistrates’ Court on 2 December and pleaded guilty to breaching s2(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £7200 and ordered to pay costs of £11,820.

In mitigation, the firm said it had no previous convictions and it had ensured that Mr Nicholas received full pay until he had fully recovered from his injuries. It has also changed its method of work for repairing landing gear. Workers now attach a rope and a block tackle to the landing gear so it can be lowered to ground level to avoid the repairs needing to be carried out at height.

After the hearing inspector Kirton said: “This company did not properly plan this work even though it was a core part of its operations. Mr Nicholas has suffered severe injuries to his face and knees purely due to a lack of planning.

“Messier should have either found a way working at ground level or provided a safe way of working at height with access to the right equipment.

“Employers need to plan work and assess the risk to people not only in their own premises but also when the work takes place in another company’s property.”

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13 years ago

What do they mean by ‘the forklift suddenly reversed causing the pallet to drop to the floor’???
Last time I looked, FLT’s don’t just reverse on their own!