The Air Livery Plc site, where the accident happened

A Southend-based company has been prosecuted after an aircraft painter was severely injured in a fall – leaving him unable to work for more than two years.

Air Livery Plc, based at Southend Airport, Essex, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the five-metre fall at a base in Filton, Bristol, on 10 October 2007.

Robert Lupton, 44, from Lawrence Weston, Bristol, was working with a colleague to wrap a plane’s wing in plastic sheeting to protect it from paint stripper. He stepped out on to the wing flap – nothing was in place to prevent falls – and fell five metres to the hangar floor below. He broke his left elbow and badly damaged ligaments. He has been unable to work since the accident.

The court heard the company pleaded guilty to breaches under Regulation 6 (3) of the Work at Heights Regulations 2005. Air Livery was fined £2,400 for breaching the regulation and ordered to pay costs of £9,162.54 at Bristol Magistrates Courts on 11 January 2010.

The HSE investigation found that it was usual practice for workers to work on wings without scaffolding or fall protection, did not have adequate training for working at height and had not implemented or enforced their risk assessment which led to unsafe ways of working becoming standard practice.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector, Christine Haberfield, said: “Air Livery should have taken the steps necessary to protect its workers by putting fall protection in place and checking to ensure that workers were using it.

“Everything may have appeared OK on paper but the practice on the ground encouraged painters to work ahead of themselves and without adequate protection. In this respect this was an accident waiting to happen – which it did, of course, to Mr Lupton.”