‘Repeated warnings’ before death

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Published: Wednesday 3rd June 2015 by The News Editor

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A man was crushed by a stack of aeroplane parts in an airport hangar after bosses ignored “repeated and explicit” warnings about dangerous conditions, a court has heard.

Paul Bowers, 47, died on January 26 2013 when a pile of metal components called “stringers” delivered to the warehouse in Hangar 14 of Cambridge Airport collapsed on him.

CAV Aerospace Limited was responsible for ordering stock and maintaining health and safety at the warehouse run by a subsidiary company and had been warned that the piles of components were “dangerously high”, the Old Bailey heard.

The company, based in Consett, County Durham, denies charges of corporate manslaughter and breaching health and safety.

Opening the trial, prosecutor Duncan Atkinson said the company specialised in the manufacture of aeroplane parts and had satellite bases in Deeside, Llantrisant in Wales, Leicester and Cambridge.

Until its closure in June last year, subsidiary CAV Cambridge Ltd was involved in milling extrusions of raw materials for conversion into parts known as “stringers and ribs” for use in the manufacture of aircraft by Airbus.

Mr Bowers died when an unstable stack of stringers toppled onto him as he made his way down a “designated safe walkway”, trapping him up to his chest and crushing him, Mr Atkinson said.

He said: “The collapse of the stack of stringers was the direct result of a more general failure to stack the stringers in a safe and orderly manner throughout the hangar.

“The more general failure was in turn a direct result of the fact that there was far too much stock in the hangar and no space to stack it, with the consequence that stringers were being stacked inappropriately both in terms of where they were being stacked and the height to which they were being stacked.”

On the day of the accident, there was more than one stack that presented a “clear danger” to workers in the hangar, Mr Atkinson said.

He went on: “It was made very clear to the senior management of the defendant company that there was a real and increasing risk of a fatality.

“Only the senior management team of CAV Aerospace Ltd in Consett, who controlled the budget and made the decisions about the time and volume of the purchases and whether to acquire additional storage space, had the power to resolve this problem before such an accident occurred.

“Despite the repeated and explicit warnings that they received, they failed to do so by 26 January 2013.”

The court was told on-site management were not able to make any operational decisions on such matters as the purchase of materials, storage and transport was all dealt with by the parent company.

Mr Atkinson alleged that CAV Aerospace Ltd was “guilty of negligent acts and omissions” and breached its duty of care to workers in Hangar 14.

He said: “This breach continued for a significant period, despite warnings that the situation was becoming worse and becoming ever more dangerous and could result in a fatality unless resolved.”

The trial continues.

Published: Wednesday 3rd June 2015 by The News Editor

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