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.”