The woman, whose husband died in a fall while working at Dublin Airport five years ago, has told a court she has no answers as to why the fatal incident happened.
Richard Gracey (64) from Balbriggan, Co Dublin was offloading cargo from an airplane on 24 November 2018 when he fell 5m headfirst to the ground and sustained fatal injuries.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the main deck loader, a moveable platform for offloading cargo, was 9 feet (2.7 m) from the aircraft door when Mr Gracey fell, and that gap should not have been more than three inches.
Swissport Ireland Limited was on Thursday Fined €250,000 after she admitted failing to ensure the safety and well-being of people at work that morning. Kirsten Brooks, an authorized representative of Swissport Ireland, also pleaded guilty to failing to take adequate fall prevention measures while unloading a cargo plane.
failure of the police
Judge Martin Nolan said had the loader been flush with the aircraft, as it should have been, had the fatal accident not happened. The court found that the security measures normally applied by the police were not observed.
A Health and Safety Agency (HSA) inspector said that while it is not industry norm for staff to tense up when unloading cargo from an aircraft, she felt it should be reconsidered.
Mr Gracey and six other employees were unloading an Air France Boeing 777 that was flying in from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport at the time of the incident.
Mr Gracey’s daughter, Laura, read aloud a victim impact statement prepared by her mother, Therese Gracey, in which she described the debilitating grief, anger and sadness she and her family have suffered since the incident. Ms Gracey said Richard, who started working at the company in 2005, loved his job and was “so meticulous and safety conscious in every aspect of his job”.
She said he often came home from work discouraged “due to difficulties with machinery” and described the situation at his workplace as “accidents waiting to happen”. She said she only learned of her husband’s “complete innocence” of what happened that day in a courtroom four years later, and was left with further questions.
“No words can explain or evoke such an immense loss of such a solid presence in my home and in my heart,” Mrs. Gracey wrote, adding that it pains her to see her children struggle with the terrible trauma their father so losing away.
Duty of Care
Attorneys for the Gracey family issued a statement urging all employers to recognize a duty of care to their employees and to take all appropriate steps to ensure employees are properly trained and not at risk of harm. They also called for policies to be changed to allow families to receive more detailed information about the circumstances surrounding the death of a loved one at work rather than waiting for a criminal case to be completed.
Judge Nolan reached out to the Gracey family and thanked them for submitting their oral and written victim impact statements. He said it was a devastating, tragic and difficult case of a very loyal employee who loved his job but never came home.
The judge noted that while his court imposed a fine to punish the company, the issue of compensating the family is being dealt with by another court. The fine could have been a maximum of 3 million euros, according to the court.
HSA Inspector Mairead Wall said Mr Gracey was performing dual roles, team leader and trainer, on the day when he fell from the main door of the plane’s cargo deck. She said a yellow safety net used as a visual warning was incorrectly attached to the main cargo deck door as only three out of four hook points were connected.
Swissport Ireland, which provides airport premises, lounge hospitality and cargo handling services, has no criminal record. Insp Wall agreed with Remy Farrell SC, who defended Swissport, that the company had always cooperated with the Garda investigation and provided extensive training.
On behalf of Swissport, Mr. Farrell offered his sincere condolences to the Gracey family and said that while the company has a health and safety system in place, it is not being monitored that day.
The court heard that Swissport immediately took significant corrective action to review operating standards and procedures and had submitted all relevant documentation to the court.
https://www.irishtimes.com/crime-law/courts/2023/03/09/swissport-ireland-fined-250000-over-death-of-employee-in-dublin-airport-fall/ Swissport Ireland fined €250,000 over death of employee at Dublin Airport in autumn – The Irish Times