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Fatal 3 m fall costs Iceland Foods £2.5m

British supermarket chain Iceland Foods has been fined £2.5m after a maintenance worker died from injuries sustained in a fall at a warehouse.

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On 28 October 2013 contractor Anthony Hopkins visited the Sycamore Road store in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, to replace the filters in an air handling unit on a plant platform above a suspended ceiling in the warehouse. He fell almost 3 m through the ceiling, sustaining fatal injuries.

An investigation by Adrian Monkhouse, principal environmental health officer at Rotherham Council, found there were no barriers to prevent falls from the platform. The area immediately in front of its access ladder was only 45 cm wide and cabling presented trip hazards. 

Iceland had not risk-assessed access to the platform, either by contractors or its own employees. 

Monkhouse ordered it to take the area out of use until protective measures were installed. The company complied and the platform was put back into use in March 2014. 

Iceland argued that it had intended to install a guardrail around the platform and had invested in one when the store was refurbished in 2013. 

The retailer’s claims that the contractor was responsible for identifying the missing handrail were rejected by the court.

Iceland was found guilty of breaching ss 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act at a trial in July. It was fined £1.25m for each offence at a sentencing hearing at Grimsby Crown Court on 18 September and ordered to pay the full costs of £65,020 to Rotherham Council.

Sentencing guidelines application

Culpability:

Medium

Seriousness of harm risked:

Level A

Likelihood of harm:

High

Harm category:

1

Size of organisation:

Very large but judge stayed within the “large” business category

Turnover:

£2.7bn

Starting point for fine:

£1.3m

Mitigation:

Full co-operation with prosecution, lack of previous convictions, remedial measures taken to prevent reoccurrence

Penalty:

£1.25m for each offence. Total of £2.5m plus £65,020 costs

 

 

Keeley Downey is acting deputy editor of IOSH Magazine. She is a former editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

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