Tesco fined £500k for missing pre-construction information

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Major supermarket chain Tesco has been fined after an investigation revealed safety failing that lead to a workman falling from height

Tesco Stores Ltd and Tesco Maintenance Ltd have been hit with a £500,000 fine for failing to conduct the necessary pre-construction paperwork on a job.

The case was brought before Liverpool Crown Court, which revealed a risk assessment and method statement had not been carried out prior to work commencing.

The incident, which occurred on 13 June 2014 saw a workman fall 10 metres onto the shop floor after a fragile skylight failed under his weight. While the man sustained only minor injuries the investigation found the skylights should have been identified as a risk factor during the work and precautions should have been put in place. However, Tesco Maintenance Ltd received no information relating to the roof fragility from the client, as is required by CDM Regulations.

During the investigation it was found the skylights were painted white, as was the rest of the roof. It was only when one of the workers “felt a crack” beneath him that the danger was identified. After the accident occurred a workman then proceeded to mark the skylights with yellow warning paint.

The Judge overseeing the case said it was “a minor miracle” the workman had not been seriously injured or worse after landing on a shelving unit in the soft drinks section of the store. Customers and colleagues assisted the man, who was taken to a nearby walk-in centre for medical aid.

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 Health and Safety Executive 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. He said: “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.”

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