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July 1, 2009

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Tesco hit in the pocket for raft of failings

A string of health and safety failings at a store in Shirley, West

Midlands, which resulted in two members of staff being injured, led to

superstore giant Tesco being ordered to pay more than £62,000.

Solihull Magistrates heard that Stuart Nutting was working in a temporary refrigerated cold store when he received an electric shock after touching a defective light switch, in which live wiring was exposed. A week after this incident, which happened on 26 September 2007, Patricia Shale fractured an ankle on an unsafe pathway. Both employees were working on an extension project at the store.

Tesco pleaded guilty on 15 June to several offences following a prosecution brought by Solihull Council. In relation to Stuart Nutting, it was fined £20,000 for contravening s2(1) of the HSWA by failing to ensure that the electrical light switch in the cold store was properly and safely maintained, failing to prevent staff from entering the cold store, and failing to make sufficient assessments of the risks to its employees.

It was fined £13,600 under the same legislation in relation to Patricia Shale, for failing to assess risks and ensure that floors were safe, and £2000 under reg.4(2) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 for failing to maintain cables. The retailer was also ordered to pay full costs of £27,000.

Tesco mitigated that the incidents had been isolated, pointing out that it had full health and safety procedures in place, although they had not been followed at this particular store. It had also not been trying to cut corners and the manager at the store has since been replaced.

Councillor Mrs Diana Holl-Allen, cabinet member for safer communities, commented: “The systemic failures that led to these preventable accidents are completely unacceptable. We hope that this case shows employers that failure to manage health and safety is not acceptable, especially when members of staff are put at risk.”

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