Health and Safety – Co-op to pay £24,015 following an accident in one of their stores

In a recent case, the Co-Op Group have been ordered to pay more than £24,000 following an accident where one of their employees had their toes crushed.  At Bristol Magistrates Court, the Co-Operative Group pleaded guilty to a health and safety offence following the accident at one of their stores in Westbury-on-Trym.

The court ordered them to pay a total of £24,015, which includes a fine of £18,000 and £6,000 prosecution costs.

In August 2012, the accident involving a platform lift in the loading bay left a store supervisor having to have parts of two toes amputated after they were crushed. The employee’s toes had become trapped against a projecting lip on the wall of the loading bay adjacent to the lift.

Bristol City Council’s Public Protection Group, found that the lift had defects ,the underside of the lift was not adequately fenced as well as the loading bay and the lift platform did not have the proper guarding to prevent falls.

Other defects were also detected, one being that the hinged metal flaps that provided easy access to transfer goods from the delivery lorries onto the platform were damaged and as a result did not lie flat. Furthermore some of these defects had been pointed out the previous year by lift inspectors but had not been corrected.

On the day of the accident the goods lift was out of order and the acting manager was on leave, the staff improvised and used the platform lift to bring goods onto the shop floor.

Interviews carried out with staff members indicated that they had not been given clear instructions on the safe use of the lift or how to carry out a check on its condition.  In addition, delivery risk assessments did not mention the main risks at the loading bay.

In court Simon Morgan, barrister for Somerfield Stores Ltd which is a branch of the Co-op, said: “The Company has taken this matter very seriously and has learnt from it. They acted swiftly to deal with the hazards identified, and the lift is now safe to use.”

If you need guidance on your legal obligations or other Health and Safety issues, please call 0845 224 7013 or email info@thespectragroup.co.uk.

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