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Tesco’s £160k roll cage fine is eight times pre-guidelines level

Supermarket giant Tesco has been hit with a £160,000 fine for an injury caused by a falling roll cage. The penalty is eight times that levied on the company in 2013 for a similar offence in the previous year.

Tesco’s £160k roll cage fine is eight times pre-guidelines level
Image credit: © iStock/TonyBaggett

The difference between the two fines reflects the influence of the sentencing guidelines for OSH offences introduced in 2016, which were intended to increase sanctions on larger employers and the removal of a fine ceiling for magistrates.

The employee of Tesco Express in Chadwell-St-Mary, Essex, was working alone when the accident happened on 30 September 2015. The worker was using a tail-lift operated by the delivery vehicle driver to unload the roll cages that held the stock. 

The worker was wheeling a 150 kg cage into the store when it lost balance and toppled on to them. They were taken to hospital with serious pelvic crush injuries and could not return to work for some time. 

Environmental health officers (EHOs) from Thurrock Council investigated and found the store had ignored its own risk assessment, which required two people to work together while moving roll cages. 

Tony Sprackling, the council’s principal EHO and corporate safety manager, told IOSH Magazine: “This was supposed to be a two-person job, but it was custom and practice that the management moved [roll cages] on their own, as did staff. It was a local management failing.”

The council added that, although Tesco had a system of work for the job, “it is plain [to see] that the plan for moving roll cages had been for some time divorced from the reality of experience at that store”. 

Tesco was found guilty of breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. It was fined £160,000 at Basildon Magistrates’ Court on 3 August plus £18,118 costs. 

The company was previously prosecuted for a similar offence at one of its stores in Surrey in 2013. It was fined £20,000, then the maximum penalty available to magistrates’ courts for OSH offences.

In May Tesco was fined £1.6m after a delivery driver reversed into a member of the public in west London, and it was handed a £116,000 penalty back in March after a worker with learning disabilities sustained a chemical burn to one of his eyes.

 Sentencing guidelines application 

Culpability:

Medium

Seriousness of harm risked:

Level B

Likelihood of harm:

Low

Harm category:

4 with an upward adjustment to reflect the number of workers exposed to risk

Size of the organisation:

Very large

Starting point for fine:

£300,000

Range:

 

Mitigating features:

Fine reduced to £240,000 for remedial action, co-operation with the investigation, had systems in place, good safety and health record. One-third off for early guilty plea

Aggravating factors:

 Previous conviction

Financial penalty:

£160,000 plus £18,118

 

Keeley Downey is assistant editor of IOSH Magazine

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