The Shoreham Air Show Crash & Contractor Mismanagement

Through the lens of the well-known aircraft incident, we will look at how businesses need a way of getting all contractors to provide information about their “manoeuvres” in advance.

Written by Laura Fitzgerald

Through the lens of the well-known aircraft incident, we will look at how businesses need a way of getting all contractors to provide information about their “manoeuvres” in advance.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) recently released a report on the Shoreham Air Show crash. 

On 22 August 2015, a 1959 Hawker Hunter T7 aircraft was performing in an aerobatics display, which included a loop-the-loop, with the aircraft inverting at the top of the loop. As the pilot came out of the loop, he was too low and hit the A27 road, leaving eleven people fatally injured. 

Some people had stopped to watch the air show, but most were passing by – going for a cycle ride, heading to play football, or giving a friend a lift. Five were young men in their twenties; one was a 76-year old driving his Daimler to take a bride to her wedding. The pilot survived.

Much of the AAIB report focuses not on the actions of the pilot, but the lack of control exercised by the person appointed as the Flying Display Director (FDD). The FDD is responsible for producing a risk assessment to ensure the safe conduct of the flying display.

For such an important risk assessment, there were several things missing. Ten hazards had been identified, including “aircraft crash outside the airfield boundary” but the FDD hadn’t looked at the detail at the proposed manoeuvres of each aircraft to see how likely the hazardous event was, or to prompt consideration of what might be done to prevent an air crash. 

There was insufficient consideration given to the consequences of each hazardous event, including a failure to consider everyone who could be hurt (such as the people travelling on the A27). Whilst the hazards listed were relevant, they weren’t tailored to the specific local circumstances.

What can we learn from this?

Whilst most of us will never be Flying Display Directors, we probably work for organisations that bring two or more contractors together to achieve a common purpose.

Consider a refurbishment project with electricians, plumbers, decorators, and joiners. It is easy to draw up a list of hazardous events that could occur: “fall from height”, “electric shock”, “exposed to asbestos” and so on, but if you don’t consider each contractor’s tasks, you can’t see how these events will occur, and therefore you can’t control them. 

You need a way of requiring all contractors to provide you with information about their “manoeuvres” in advance.  This is often referred to as a method statement, and should be specific to the job at hand, not just a generic description of the sort of things the organisation normally does. These method statements are often supported by risk assessments and are known collectively as RAMS. Just as the Shoreham FDD couldn’t ensure safety without information about the display manoeuvres, you can’t manage safety without assessing the contractor RAMS.

EcoOnline has a contractor module that can help you avoid being in the same situation as the Shoreham FDD. You might already know that you can record contractor details on EcoOnline and indicate when they have been approved, but did you know you can also use the system to collate and assess contractor RAMS?  

You can set a task for contractors to provide information for a specific job or a series of jobs, and use the system to track when they have uploaded the documents. You can create an auditable action for a project manager (who could be in-house or another contractor) to review the RAMS provided by different contractors, and to assemble a health and safety plan for the project, which will include information on how risk will be managed across all project elements.

For more information to find out how EcoOnline can help you manage your existing contractors or help you streamline any of your organisations health and safety processes why not Contact one of our super friendly product specialists or Request A Demo Online.

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