Work at Height – worker survives fall, but Tesco fined over £500,000

Work at Height, fall leads to large fine despite worker surviving the fall

We need to remember in 2013/14 falls arising from work at height were the most common cause of fatalities accounting to one in three fatal injuries to workers (RIDDOR)
So imagine the shock, a worker working on a Tesco store roof falling 30 feet onto a concrete floor getting only minor injuries, even the judge, Justice Steven Everett said that it was a “minor Miracle” he did not die. The worker who worked for Tesco Maintenance Ltd was carrying out repairs to roofing and guttering. While carrying out these repairs, he failed to spot a roof light that had been painted over, resulting in a fall of 30 feet to the floor.

So what Happened?

Tesco, over time, split the business into different areas that included retail, property, logistics, and maintenance. However while doing this failed to carry out one of the most important but basic principles of health and safety companies need to do which was communicate to each other. They failed to provide Tesco Maintenance Ltd, information regarding the fragility of the roof from Tesco Stores Ltd. This then snowballed as it did not allow Tesco Maintenance Ltd to provide its workers with a safe system of work which in turn put a worker at risk which the Judge pointed out as was a miracle.

This accident occurred in 2014 so it was covered by the previous CDM 2007 (Construction (Design and Management) Regulation) and not the new CDM 2015. The Tesco group was fined over £500,000 for this work at height incident.

But it could have been worst however Tesco Stores Ltd pleaded guilty to all breaches which included 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 fined £200,000. The company was also ordered to pay costs of £712.70.

Tesco Maintenance Ltd 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. The company was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of £624.60.

What can we learn from this?

Regardless how big or small your company is, take your time to communicate and inform staff and contractors of risks involved in the work they are carrying out. Ensure that risk assessments are carried out, and systems are in place to avoid and reduce risk. Also, make sure staff and or contractors are trained and have the correct equipment and knowledge to do the task!

 

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