A bathroom company has been fined £40,000 after a three tonne piece of equipment was blown onto an employee, leaving him with a serious head injury, reports Bradford daily newspaper The Telegraph and Argus.
Harrison Bathrooms was sentenced for health and safety failings at Bradford Magistrates Court on Tuesday 7 December.
The business, which has a warehouse on Deal Street in Keighley, was told it could had been fined £100,000, but an early guilty plea and a otherwise unblemished health and safety record led to the fine being reduced.
The incident that led to the charge happened on 15 January 2019.
An employee of the company, Joshua Degler, had been seriously injured when a large retractable tent used to keep goods in a storage yard dry was blown over by a gust of wind.
He was pinned between the three-tonne structure and the concrete floor, and he suffered injuries to his head and torso.
A forklift truck was needed to lift the structure off him, and he was flown to hospital by an Air Ambulance.
Bradford Council brought the case, and Sarah Barlow, prosecuting, told the court that the company had no written instructions for employees on how to use the retractable tent, and no evidence of a risk assessment on the equipment nor formal training for employees on how to safely use it.
She said Mr Degler had not co-operated with the court case, and so the court had to assume he had made a full recovery.
He had already been compensated by the company through a civil case.
She added: “It appears that it is a well run company that took health and safety seriously and this case is best described as saying they made a mistake.”
A Mr Horgan, representing the company, said: “This is a local company that has done its damnedest appropriately in regard to health and safety, but accepts that it made a mistake.
“They apologise for the pain and suffering caused.”
He said the accident had a major impact on the company, and its Managing Director Mr Harrison had felt personally responsible.
He told the court that the incident was a one off for a company that took health and safety very seriously, and there had been no similar incidents since.
Only a handful of the company's 100 employees would have ever accessed the equipment, and no members of the public would have been put at risk.
District Judge Richard Clews said that for a company that size, currently it has a turnover of £28m, the starting point for a fine would be £100,000. But he said the company had pleaded guilty and cooperated with the investigation from the start, and added: "Other than this it has a good record of safety and care of its employees, and after the incident took more than sufficient steps to right the wrong.
As well as the £40,000 fine the company was ordered to pay £5,421 costs and a £170 surcharge.
After the case Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s executive member for Healthy people and Healthy places, said: “I would warn all businesses to learn from incidents like this. The company were very fortunate it was not an even more serious accident than it was.
“Whenever a business introduces new equipment, or changes how they work, a full safety risk assessment needs to be carried out along with adequately training.”
“No business would want an incident like this on their conscience and the Council will take action against any business which does not take adequate measures to keep their staff and customers safe.”
The Telegraph and Argus December 2021