Head Of Training, The Healthy Work Company

October 4, 2016

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Tesco fined £500k after worker falls through supermarket roof

Tesco has been fined a total of £500,000 after a worker fell 30-feet through a fragile skylight. Judge Steven Everett said that it was ‘a minor miracle’ that the maintenance worker had not been killed or seriously injured in the incident in June 2014.

The incident

Craig Morris, prosecuting on behalf of the HSE, told Liverpool Crown Court that Andrew Burgess was working with three other colleagues on the roof of the Tesco Express in Liscard, for his employer Tesco Maintenance Ltd, attending to a rain leak into the store.

The court heard how the shop, which has had a false ceiling since it opened in 2009,  had skylights which had been painted white along with the rest of the roof. It was only when one of the men felt a crack beneath his foot that they realised there were plastic roof lights, which were not marked as being fragile.

A colleague began marking around the skylights with yellow warning paint but before he had done them all Mr Burgess fell through one of them.

He did not break a single bone in the fall and walked away with cuts, bruises and some muscle damage. He was helped by customers and colleagues and taken to the nearby walk-in centre for treatment.

He was off work for a number of weeks during which he had physiotherapy and was able to return to work.


At Liverpool Crown Court Judge Steven Everett said that it was “a minor miracle” that Mr Burgess had not been killed or seriously injured after the fall


Tesco Maintenance Ltd, which is a separate offshoot company from Tesco Stores, pleaded guilty to two health and safety breaches involving failing to ensure safety and Tesco Stores admitted one similar breach.

Tesco Maintenance Ltd was fined £300,000 and Tesco Stores Ltd was fined £200,000. They have to jointly pay £9,379 prosecution costs.

Judge Steven Everett said that it was “a minor miracle” that Mr Burgess had not been killed or seriously injured after the fall, adding that customers could also have been hurt and although Mr Burgess was not seriously injured it was the risk of harm that was the issue.


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

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

When contacted by SHP, a Tesco spokesperson said: “There’s nothing more important than the safety of our colleagues and customers, so we are extremely sorry this incident took place. As a result of the accident, we’ve enhanced the safety procedures used for this type of maintenance.”


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Peter Douglad
Peter Douglad
7 years ago

Again, Maintenance folk at the brunt of failings of management and the lack of Planning – even a ‘Take 5’ before venturing onto any Roof… as with going into a Tunnel via a hatch a ‘Permit-to-Work’ system should be for Confined Space or those Tasks that need added assessment, care and consideration, incl Rescue. Why was not a ‘Permit to Work’ system in place on accessing a Roof, flat or otherwise..! ‘Falls’ the biggest killer as we all know. It seems neither a Walk round to the underside of the Roof was afforded… or even the popping up of a… Read more »