Not so funny when you could die

You may have seen this already.

It looks like the plane wasn’t chocked (at least not properly), and with a gap opening up under passengers feet that was over 2 meters high (3 actually) this was a potentially fatal incident.

It should be recorded as such – it’s a near miss – a zero barrier incident, which means that nothing but luck prevented someone dying. That someone could have been a passenger, or one of the many workers milling around under the plane.

The investigation should (that’s how these things work) understand how this came to be and put in place preventative steps to make sure it never happens again. Typically these sorts of things have a bunch of different causes, such as inadequate procedures (e.g. to cope with wind), lack of adherence to procedure due to lack of training, a culture that allows risky behavior to occur, a culture that didn’t put zero harm first and so forth. It’s important not to blame-fest but to focus on making sure it never happens again.

Heavy industry deals with potential fatalities all of the time, and the airline industry is no exception. The recent Qantas incidents only prove how difficult it is for even the best to maintain a perfect safety record when flying passengers about. You have to get the aircraft maintenance spot on, the pilots and crew need to be near perfect in their approach to safety  and air traffic controllers the same. Ground staff probably had it a bit easy in their perceived ability to impact on passenger safety, but they will now get more attention.

At BHP Billiton one of the more frustrating “fatal risk control protocol” rules for many people is that vehicles on a slope, or non “light vehicles” (e.g. cars) on any terrain need to be chocked when they were unattended. This is one reason why.

About Lance Wiggs

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