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CLIENT FINED OVER ABSENT PRE-CONSTRUCTION INFORMATION

Major supermarket chain and CDM client prosecuted alongside contractor

Tesco Stores Ltd and Tesco Maintenance Ltd have been fined a combined sum of £500,000 after a workman was lucky to suffer only minor injuries when he fell 10m to the shop floor after a fragile skylight failed under his weight in Wallasey, Merseyside on the 13th June 2014.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that the worker was part of a team carrying out repairs to the roof and gutters of the store when the incident occurred.

HSE investigators revealed that a risk assessment and method statement were not prepared prior to carrying out the work.

The fragile skylights should have been identified and precautions taken but Tesco Maintenance Ltd received no information relating to the fragility of the roof from the client as required by the CDM Regulations.

The court heard that workmen were on the roof dealing with a rain leak. The skylights were painted white along with the rest of the roof and it was only when one of the men “felt a crack” beneath his foot that they realised the danger.

One workman had proceeded to mark around the skylights with yellow warning paint when his colleague fell through the roof.

Risk is the issue – customers could have been injured

Judge Steven Everett is reported to have said it was “a minor miracle” the workman had not died or been seriously injured after landing on shelving in the soft drinks section. He was helped by customers and colleagues and taken to the nearby walk-in centre for treatment.

The judge also pointed out that customers could also have been hurt and although the workman was not seriously injured it was “the risk of harm that was the issue” adding, “it is astonishing that there wasn’t a fall of this nature on an earlier occasion.”

  • Tesco Stores Ltd – of Tesco House Welwyn Garden City, Herts pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Regulation 10 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and was fined £200,000 with £712.70 costs
  • Tesco Maintenance Ltd – of Tesco House Welwyn Garden City, Herts pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 9 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £300,000 with £624.60 costs.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Chris Hatton said:

“Contractors should treat all roofs with care and check before starting any work if they are fragile. I am shocked at a company the size of Tesco failing to take even basic precautions to prevent injury to its employees and further, to risk injury to the public”

Simon Antrobus, defending both companies said they had good health and safety records and expressed regret and apology over the incident.

“What went wrong was that both companies failed to identify it had fragile roof panels. There were procedures but on this occasion they were not implemented.”

He pointed out that Tesco had acted to remedy the situation swiftly and admitted it was at fault at a very early stage.

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