Border Agency censured after searching munitions cargo…
The UK Border Agency has been censured by the HSE after an investigation revealed that safety failings could have led to an explosion at Robin Hood airport in Finningley, South Yorkshire.
Staff from the agency went ahead with an examination of a munitions cargo of a plane at the airport despite being warned against the action by the pilot.
Ten people were present at the airport when the incident occurred on 10 November 2009 and the HSE have since issued a Crown Censure against the UKBA as the agency cannot face a standard prosecution case like non-governmental bodies.
The airplane that was searched was transporting anti-tank ammunition and had been moved to a more isolated part of the airport after UKBA bosses decided to investigate the load. The UKBA employees proceeded to open the crates of ammunition and even remove some of the explosive devices from their protective packaging despite being explicitly told not to do so by the pilot of the aircraft and despite the fact there were ten people in the vicinity of the aircraft.
The subsequent HSE investigation discovered that the UKBA had failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment so that they could have been more aware of the possibility of an explosion occurring that might have endangered the lives of their own staff, workers at the airport and members of the public.
The UKBA has formally accepted the censure and acknowledged that their negligence led to these health and safety failings.
The HSE Director for Northern England, David Snowball, commented:
“Our investigation into the details of the cargo verification by UKBA staff at Robin Hood Doncaster Sheffield airport found that the failings by the Agency were serious enough to warrant this course of action.
“The evidence brought to light by the HSE investigation would be sufficient to provide a realistic prospect of conviction of UKBA in civilian courts. This Crown Censure is the maximum enforcement action that HSE can take and should serve to illustrate how seriously we take the failings we identified.”
Author: Julian Roberts
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