DIY supplier chain, B&Q, has been ordered to pay fines of £60,000 by Exeter Crown Court following an incident where two workers sustained severe injuries from accidents involving fork-lift trucks at their two stores in Exeter, which both occurred within the space of 18 days in 2010. The employees who were injured were a 47-year-old garden centre worker and a 43-year-old delivery driver – they both sustained broken limbs and are still recovering.
The garden centre worker, Stephen Durrant was injured at the Alphington Road store in May. He sustained a broken arm and leg after half a ton of topsoil was knocked off shelving at the store and subsequently hit him. The topsoil was being stored on the highest shelf even though the company had banned this. Andrew White, the delivery driver, was injured at the Sowton store when he was hit by a reversing fork-lift truck. He ended up sustaining a serious heel injury and has been unable to work as a result.
Both accidents illustrated the fact that B&Q’s methods of risk assessment and safety procedures were not up to par. For instance, with the first incident, the forklift driver had very little room on either side to manoeuvre. The second accident occurred because employees did not obey the official company rules that state that delivery drivers should stay in the truck until cargo has been unloaded.
B&Q was ordered to pay fines of £60,000, with £25,317.50 costs and £60 victim surcharge after pleading guilty to four offences against the Health and Safety Act.
Judge Phillip Wassall stated –
“The incident at Alphington Road was an accident waiting to happen. The problem at Sowton was that the company’s rules were simply not being enforced on the ground and over time B&Q bear heavy responsibility for that.”
In December 2008 factory worker, Nazar Hussain, a father of three from Halifax, died in an accident while working at a Nestle factory in Bailey Hall Road. The fatal accident occurred when he was inside a depalletiser machine and his colleague restarted it, unaware that Mr Hussain was still inside.
It is thought that Mr Hussain had entered the machine to clear a blockage following the machine’s alarm sounding. When the machine’s alarm again sounded, Mr Hussain’s co-worker went to investigate why. He inspected the machine to see if anybody was inside and it appeared to be empty. He then restarted the depalletiser, however it stopped just a few seconds later. Mr Hussain’s body was then found inside and he was pronounced dead.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation discovered that workers at the Nestle factory had not been made aware of the fact that there was a safety key available for the machine. Mr Hussain’s death was ultimately avoidable and due to safety failings demonstrated by Nestle. HSE referred to the cause of Mr Hussain’s death as being ‘inexcusable negligence’
Additionally, there was no written safety advice provided by Nestle about improving the guarding on the machine which had been acquired by the company in 2002. Nestle UK Ltd were fined £180,000 and were also ordered to pay £41.826.33 in court costs after pleading guilty to violating the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
Following the court hearing inspector for the HSE, Jackie Ferguson, stated –
“Companies should be aware HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall so far below the required standards.”
Mr Hussain’s daughter, Sameena, spoke about her family’s loss in a court statement –
She said: “The death of my father came as a complete shock and my mother has been left in pieces by his death. She grieves to this day and still asks questions as to how and why it happened. Our lives have undergone a complete change, and for that we blame Nestle for not having the proper fail-safes in place to stop something like this occurring.”