Wilko braced for £2.2m fine after multiple safety failures leave student worker paralysed
Wednesday 11th January 2017
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Leicester Crown Court heard that Collins was pulling the metal cage overloaded with 230 kg of paint out from an uneven lift floor at the store's Beaumont Shopping Centre branch when it toppled on her, causing a severe spinal fracture.
Leicester City Council's public safety team, which brought the prosecution, described it as a "high culpability case". No suitable risk assessments had been carried out and the general risk assessment covering roll cages did not cover the hazards involved in maneuvering them on uneven surfaces.
The court also heard that employees had not been given information on the safe distribution of loads throughout roll cages, nor adequate training in their use. Wilco provided no proper supervision.
Wilko Retail, which is based in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, has nearly 400 stores across the UK, including four in Leicester, and a £1.4bn turnover. The firm previously pleaded guilty to four offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Passing sentence today, Judge Ebraham Mooncey imposed the £2.2m fine for the first of the four offences: failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees. The company was also ordered to pay £70,835 in costs.
Collins, who had just completed the first year of a degree at Northampton University, spent weeks at Coventry's Walsgrave Hospital following the accident before being transferred to the spinal injuries unit at Sheffield for extensive rehabilitation. She was discharged in December 2013, 18 months after her injury, and returned part-time to her university course.
A carding machine that formed part of Felt Suppliers’ production line had become blocked with waste on 1 February 2012. The carding process disentangles, cleans and intermixes fibres to produce a continuous web for onward processing. Nasir Hussain tried to fix the problem by overriding the safety system. He unlocked one of the gates with a spare key, climbed on top of the machine and used a metal bar to clear the blockage.
Wolverhampton Crown Court was told that a worker was repairing a printing, slotting and forming machine at Diamond Box’s factory in West Bromwich in the West Midlands. He put his foot onto an exposed conveyor and was dragged into the machine’s moving parts. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said that Diamond Box allowed uncontrolled maintenance work without a risk assessment.
KFG Quickserve employee Michael Firth was working in the fast food restaurant on Westgate Street when he spilled scalding hot oil on himself. The accident happened on 28 March 2015 while Firth was emptying oil from three fat fryers. The court heard that he decanted the hot oil into a metal bucket and carried it up some stairs to an outside disposal area. The bucket had no lid. Some of the oil spilled on to Firth’s feet and he dropped the container.
The company was also fined £61,000 for failing to ensure that those using the equipment were not exposed to the risk of injury or death, for failing to maintain the equipment and for hiring the cherry picker out when it had not been certified as safe. Another company, J M Access Solutions, which had been hired to carry out statutory thorough inspections was also fined £30,000 for failing to do so.
The company was installing a mezzanine floor at a factory in Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey when the incident occurred on 13 January 2015. The contractor was working on the floor when he stepped backwards and fell through a hole where a lift was due to be installed.