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September 4, 2015

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Hugo Boss fined £1.2m for health and safety breaches

Hugo Boss has been fined £1.2m after a four-year-old boy died at one its shops.

Austen Harrison was killed by an 18-stone (114kg) changing room mirror, which fell on him at the Hugo Boss outlet in Bicester Village in 2013.

He was rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, where he underwent an emergency operation to relieve pressure on his brain but died four days later in hospital after his life-support machine was switched off.

Hugo Boss admitted to health and safety breaches at a hearing at Banbury Magistrates’ Court on 2 June for failing to secure mirror.

Jonathan Laidlaw QC, defending, entered a guilty plea for the company to offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

However, Barry Berlin, prosecuting on behalf of Cherwell District Council, told the court that the label should be sentenced at the crown court because the maximum fine at magistrates’ court was only £20,000.

He suggested the case should be sentenced in the crown court where the recommended starting point of a £100,000 fine per offence could be imposed or even exceeded.

“Plainly this a very serious matter relating to a child aged four-and-a-half who on June 4 2013 was struck on the head by a seven feet tall, 18 stone free standing three-way mirror,” he added.

“It wasn’t fixed to the wall despite its own requirements. We say, bearing in mind that the injuries the child sustained resulted in his death, that this is a case that should be dealt with in the crown court.”

An inquest concluded the mirror should have been fixed to a wall, while coroner Darren Salter described the incident as “an accident waiting to happen”.

In sentencing the company today (4 Sep), Oxford Crown Court Judge Peter Ross said Hugo Boss had a “corporate responsibility”, and he wanted to ensure the issue went to the “very top of the company”.

He said it “would have been obvious to the untrained eye” that the mirror posed a risk, adding that it was “nothing short of a miracle” that it had not happened sooner.

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8 years ago

I don’t recall the original incident but this is tragic and, as a father of 2 young boys, really breaks my heart to hear. But it does go to highlight how health and safety in the workplace is the responsibility of all employees and that the manager of the store and staff working in there should have done more to ensure the store was safe for all customers. It just goes to show that culturally there is till a long way to go to get the message home that if something is unsafe then it’s up to all of us… Read more »

Workplace Health And Safety - Why It's More Important Than Ever | Science and Enterprise
6 years ago

[…] A bad press story can spread like wildfire. Remember when Harrison Ford was filming The Force Awakens? A serious injury suffered by the actor left a production company with a $2 million fine to pay for breaching health and safety rules. Meanwhile, Hugo Boss is another well-known company that has recently faced fines for health and safety breaches. […]