British high-street chain Wilko have been fined £2.2m after one of their former employees was crushed in an accident which has left them paralysed.
The accident involved 23 year old Corisande Collins - who was a university student working at one of Wilko’s Leicester branches in 2013 – after she was crushed beneath a metal cage containing tins of paint. This resulted in her being paralysed and she now relies on a wheelchair.
Leicester Crown Court heard how Ms Collins pulled the overloaded cage carrying 230kg (507lb) of paint out of a lift before it fell on her. During the legal proceedings, Wilko admitted to failing to ensure the health and safety of one of their employees.
The prosecution described it as a “high culpability case” as no risk assessment had taken place for the lift or the use of the roll cages which coincided with “inadequate training and supervision”. Health and safety inspectors also commented that they were “shocked” by the general practices at the store and stated that “the systems were unsafe”.
In a statement, Wilko have said that they fully acknowledge responsibility and will not be appealing the decision. The statement said:
"The greater penalty for all of us is knowing that on this occasion we let one of our team members down.
"We are truly sorry that this incident happened and for the impact it has had on Corisande, her family and those around them, which the judge today recognised they have faced as a family and with great fortitude."
“This case illustrates the tragic personal consequences that can flow from a business failing to comply with its legal duties and obligations. “Culpability” is the measure by which an employer or individual fails to do what the law expects. In this case, the prosecuting authority determined that Wilko’s culpability was “high”. Under the new Health and Safety sentencing guidelines, this suggests that the failure fell “far short” of the appropriate standard.
Employers need to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees and anyone else that might be affected by the business. Carrying out a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to employees in doing their job is a crucial step in achieving legal compliance.”
If you or your company have been accused of failing any health and safety procedures, contact us on 0808 168 5550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will arrange an initial consultation to find out how we can assist you.