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Safety warnings on Ajax were not acted upon, UK MoD says

Safety warnings on Ajax were not acted upon, UK defence procurement minister Jeremy Quin told parliament on 15 December. (Crown Copyright)

A string of safety warnings about noise and vibration problems with the Ajax family of armoured vehicles were not acted upon by the British Army, according to a review by the UK Ministry of Defence's (MoD's) Director of Health, Safety and Environmental Protection, David King.

UK defence procurement minister Jeremy Quin revealed on 15 December that engineering solutions to the problems, which led to the exposure of 310 soldiers to unsafe levels of noise and vibration, had yet to be agreed with Ajax contractor General Dynamics Land Systems.

Quin told the UK parliament, “The review finds that the failure was complex and systemic. It finds that a culture exists of not treating safety as equally important as cost and time in the acquisition process, and from a cultural perspective, the British Army did not believe it was potentially causing harm to people, especially from vibration, as it was tacitly expected that soldiers can and should endure such issues.”

Quin said the noise levels were “proven to be above the statutory limit” and exposed personnel to potential harm, adding, “This exposure was not prevented by the MoD due to a series of failures to act when concerns were raised by expert advisers and by soldiers operating the vehicles.”

The first reports alerting the ministry to the problems were received in December 2018 and the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (Dstl) then advised that there was not an independent assurance of the vehicle's safety because General Dynamics UK calculations had been used.

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