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CLIENT FINED £2.5 MILLION AFTER CONTRACTOR DEATH

Fatal fall through roof leaves client responsible for massive fine

Iceland Foods Limited has been been fined £2.5 million at a sentencing hearing at Grimsby Crown Court on 18th September 2017.

The company had previously been found guilty of breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 following a three-week trial held at Sheffield Crown Court in July 2017.

The prosecution was brought by Rotherham Council following a fatal accident at an Iceland store in Rotherham on 28 October 2013.

The employee of a contractor visited the premises to replace filters within an air conditioning unit located on a plant platform above a suspended ceiling in a warehouse at the store. The workman fell almost 3m from the platform and through the suspended ceiling and he sustained.

Court rejected reliance on specialist contractor

Investigators from the Council revealed the lack of “barriers” to prevent falls from the platform. The area of the platform immediately in front of the access ladder was restricted (45cm in width) and there were several tripping hazards in this area, including cabling and the fixing points for the ladder itself.

The court heard that the company had not carried out a risk assessment to consider access to the plant platform either by contractors or their own employees.

Iceland argued that they had intended for a guardrail to be installed around the plant platform and had in fact paid for one during refurbishment of the store.

The company contended that they were entitled to rely on the specialist contractors who carried out work on the plant platform to identify the missing handrail. These claims were rejected by the court.

Consider contractors in your H&S arrangements

The company was fined £1.25 million for each offence and ordered to pay the full costs of £65,019.64 to Rotherham Council.

Karen Hanson, Assistant Director for Community Safety and Street Scene said that the case highlighted the importance of companies considering not only their own employees but the work of contractors as part of their health and safety arrangements.

The Metro reports that an Iceland spokesman said:

“Mr Hopkins lost his life due to the the absence of a safety handrail around the platform on which the air conditioning equipment was located. This handrail had been specified in our design of the store, and our contractors had certified to us that it was in place. We naturally regret our reliance on these assurances.’

 

The access hatch and ladders leading through the suspended ceiling to the plant platform. A section of suspended ceiling is missing to the right of the access hatch/ladder where the deceased fell through the suspended ceiling. The air conditioning unit that was being worked on can be seen on the plant platform at the top right of the photograph. (Courtesy of Rotherham Council)

 

The close proximity of the air conditioning unit to the fragile suspended ceiling. The area at the front of the photograph where part of the suspended ceiling is missing is where the deceased fell through. (Courtesy of Rotherham Council)

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