The Irish Mail on Sunday

Is anything safe at Air Corps base?

Damaged drains, cables across hangar floors, a leaking oven, oil spills and a risk of Legionnair­es’ disease... these are just a few of the workplace hazards inspectors found at Casement Aerodrome

- By Ken Foxe

HEALTH and safety inspection­s on the Irish Air Corps discovered spills of hazardous brake fluid, a water supply that carried the risk of Legionnair­es’ disease, fall risks, damaged drains, and trailing cables across aircraft hangar floors.

The Defence Forces were also issued with a contravent­ion notice by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) over the use of some chemicals without proper training of personnel.

A HSA report on Casement Aerodrome at Baldonnel in Dublin late last year said that slip, trip and fall hazards were ‘identified throughout’ the facility.

A report from December said this included: ‘Deep drains, damaged drains, [an] uncovered drain, potentiall­y slippery kitchen floor in areas, leaking combi oven in the kitchen, trailing cables on hangar floors, surprise steps, makeshift portacabin entrance steps, and uneven paths [and] surfaces in outdoor areas.’

An inspector said they also found scaffoldin­g on the site that was not in use, had no inspection tags, and which had ‘structural concerns’.

The report flagged the risk of large emergency vehicles being ‘routinely reversed’ into an area where there were crash rescue locker rooms and a garage, and with no ventilatio­n to allow exhaust fumes to escape easily.

‘In areas, there were no identified separate pedestrian walkways or crossing points, lack of clear speed limits [or] restrictio­ns, limited use of one-way systems,’ said the inspector.

The HSA inspector also found unsecured fire extinguish­ers, safety equipment stored on the floor, and some fire doors that were not kept shut.

The report added: ‘Fuse boards had doors missing and were uncovered. Review the electrical risk assessment and ensure the electrical installati­on is reviewed by a competent person and repaired as required.’

Numerous other issues were raised, including the need for a risk assessment of derelict buildings at Baldonnel, and the absence of separate male and female showers in a crash rescue area.

A separate report from December said that several safety data sheets were outdated and recommende­d additional training on the handling of specific restricted chemicals.

The inspector also found an open container of waste brake fluid oil in one hangar that had spilled, with the Air Corps urged to ‘clean up promptly’ to minimise the risk from hazardous chemicals.

It said other out-of-date chemicals should have been removed and disposed of by a licensed operator and that there was a Legionella risk from power washing, washing facilities and emergency showers.

The report flagged ‘deposits of wood dust’ in a workshop which needed to be cleaned, and recommende­d that nearby ventilatio­n systems be checked at least every 14 months.

Also noted were deposits of dust in a spray-painting workshop which the inspector said needed to be avoided.

In response to the concerns raised by the Health and Safety Authority, the Defence Forces provided an action plan to deal with all the issues raised during the first half of this year.

Asked about the inspection­s, a

‘No separate male and female showers’

‘The Defence Forces provided an action plan’

spokesman for the HSA said it was the statutory body with responsibi­lity for enforcing occupation­al health and safety law, as well as for promoting safety in the workplace.

The spokesman said: ‘Inspection­s are carried out in all industry sectors and reports are utilised to document observatio­ns and to instruct improvemen­ts.

‘It is the responsibi­lity of all employers to ensure the health and safety of employees and others, such as members of the public who may be affected by work activity,’ he added.

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 ?? ?? NOT SAFE: Tánaiste Micheál Martin at Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel, Dublin, left
NOT SAFE: Tánaiste Micheál Martin at Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel, Dublin, left

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