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Luton Airport and subcontractor ordered to pay almost £400,000 after death of pensioner

by Redmans Solicitors on October 18, 2013

The company which operates Luton Airport has been heavily fined and ordered to pay substantial costs after a pensioner was killed crossing the road at the airport.

Mrs Mary Whiting, 78, from Norfolk, was returning from holiday on 16 May 2012 when the accident occurred. She was crossing the road between a terminal building and a passenger drop-off zone when she was struck by a milk lorry and crushed under its wheels. It is not currently known whether the family of Mrs Whiting has made a claim for personal injury after the accident.

The Health and Safety Executive subsequently undertook an investigation into the matter after it was informed of the accident. The investigation found:

  • That the crossing (which was designed by C-T Aviation Solutions Limited) was badly positioned and did not conform with the regulations that apply to public roads

The Health and Safety Executive subsequently recommended that both London Luton Airport Operations Limited and C-T Aviation Solutions Limited be prosecuted for breaching UK health and safety regulations.

The matter came to trial over a six-week period between mid-April and late May of this year, with both London Luton Airport Operations Limited and the designer subcontractor pleading not guilty to breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

The jury in the case found London Luton Airport Operations Limited guilty of breaching s.3(1) and 21 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 3 of the Management of the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The company was fined a total of £75,000 and ordered to pay £197,595 toward the prosecution’s costs.

Design subcontractor C-T Aviation Solutions Limited was fined £70,000 and ordered to pay £30,000 towards the prosecution’s costs after being found guilty of breaching s.3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Regulation 11 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007.

The HSE stated that London Luton Airport Operations Limited was served with an Improvement Notice after Mrs Whiting’s death, with the Improvement Notice requiring that modifications be made to improve safety for pedestrians and vehicles.

There appears to have been no comment from either company or their criminal defence solicitors.

HSE Inspector Graham Tomkins stated after the sentencing: “This tragic incident could easily have been avoided had London Luton Airport Operations Limited taken the proper steps to ensure the safety of vehicles and their passengers at the airport.”

Chris Hadrill, an employment law solicitor at Redmans, commented after the hearing: “Businesses should be careful that their workplaces comply with the necessary health and safety regulations in the United Kingdom or they could – like the two businesses here – face criminal liability and expensive court cases.

Redmans Solicitors are employment law solicitors based in Richmond, London

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