Property giant fined £1.3m after ‘serious failings’ led to death of passer-by, 29

A property management company that failed to inspect, maintain or even notice insecure structures on the roof of a Wolverhampton shopping centre has been fined £1.3m after a tank cover broke free in high winds, striking and killing a young university worker.

Tahnie Martin, 29, was killed on 23 February 2017 while walking past Wolverhampton’s Mander Centre, on Dudley Street.  

The wooden tank cover, which had been secured to the brick tank casing by “rotten and weather-damaged” clasps, fell six storeys from the roof, causing fatal head injuries.

A University of Wolverhampton colleague who was with Martin at the time, Raman Sarpal, was also knocked to the ground by the panel, and suffered a serious injury to her leg. 

Cushman and Wakefield Debenham Tie Leung, which had been the managing agent for the Mander Centre since 2012, was this week fined £1.3m plus £375,000 in costs at a sentencing hearing at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

Read more here.

£34,000 penalty after racking at cash and carry not inspected for 30 years

A food wholesale business in Wolverhampton has been fined £16,000 for placing the health and safety of staff and customers at risk with racking that was at risk of collapse after not having been inspected for more than 30 years.

The prosecution was brought by City of Wolverhampton Council which first became aware of conditions at STB Foods on Ettingshall Road in July 2017.

Council enforcement officers first made a food safety inspection at the premises, which supplies local food outlets, then returned to undertake a thorough review of the racking. 

According to the council, it found food storage racks holding heavy goods that were “bent, split, not fixed to flooring and at a risk of collapse”.

The council served a prohibition notice and also brought charges against STB Foods for failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees, and for exposing members of the public to risk.

Read more here.

Ikea Bristol

Ikea fined £100,000 after unguarded roof-top fan sliced worker’s fingers

The UK division of global furniture retailer Ikea has been fined £100,000 after a worker lost part of two fingers during maintenance work on a roof-mounted fan at its Bristol store.

The incident, at the city’s Eastgate Shopping Centre on 21 November 2016, was investigated and prosecuted by Bristol City Council.

A maintenance engineer was checking a fault on a fan located on the roof of the building when the accident occurred.

Council health and safety officers found that the fan and eight others on the roof were not guarded, while no risk assessment or training had been undertaken for the task.

In addition, there was no adequate risk assessment in place for fault-finding or maintenance work of this kind, and the engineer had received no health and safety training from Ikea for this work.

On 3 October, Ikea’s UK division pleaded guilty at Bristol Magistrates’ Court to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The company was fined £100,000 and was ordered to pay costs of £6,407 to Bristol City Council.

Senior managers from Ikea were in court for the hearing, according to the council.

A letter from a board member was read out which expressed remorse for the incident and said that the lessons learned from this case been shared throughout the business.

Read more here.

UK heatwave: What does the law say on employee rights during hot weather?

The hottest day of the decade could be on its way to the UK – with the mercury set to climb to highs of 34 degrees on Wednesday 25 July, according to the Met Office.

But, for employees, the sun’s rays can make the working environment almost unbearable.

Laura Kearsley, partner and solicitor in the employment team at East Midlands-based Nelsons Solicitors, explains what the law says on employee rights during hot weather.

Can I leave my workplace if it becomes too hot?

Not unless staff feel unwell and need to take sick leave. The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 places a legal obligation on employers to provide a “reasonable” working temperature in the office. Employers have a duty to determine what reasonable comfort will be in the particular circumstances.

Are there any other regulations that protect workers during hot weather?

In addition, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires employers to make a suitable assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their employees.

The temperature of the workplace is one of the potential hazards that employers should consider when doing risk assessments.

Read more here.


£1m fine for health and safety breaches at Poundstretcher

Breaches to health and safety legislation at three Poundstretcher stores in Newbury, Newhaven and Swindon have resulted in the retail chain being hit with a £1m fine.

The chain pleaded guilty to a total of 24 counts of breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 following inspections by environmental health officers.

The case came after checks at a warehouse in Swindon following a complaint from a worker and investigations at the other stores.

Inspections discovered in the Newhaven store in December 2014 that emergency exits were blocked and stock was stored in a dangerous fashion. Further enquires revealed that the firm did not follow its own safety procedures and guidance.

The firm said that the issues were due to local management.

Read more here.

Luton Magistrates Court

£60k fine for plasterboard recycling firm following inspections

A Bedfordshire-based plasterboard recycling company has been fined after health and safety concerns were identified during a routine inspection of their premises on 22 September 2015.

Luton Magistrates’ Court heard that health and safety standards at the site were generally poor; inspectors found:

  • no measures on site to prevent pedestrians from coming into contact with moving vehicles
  • machinery on site inadequately guarded
  • unsupported plasterboard stockpiles leaning against buildings.

A proactive inspection carried out by two inspectors from the HSE also found that Plasterboard Recycling Solutions Ltd had failed to ensure that the buildings on site were safe for workers to use because one of the walls of the process building was bowing and the internal roof trusses were bent and damaged.

Find out more here.

House on Field Green Lane

Gross negligence manslaughter: ‘Precedent set’ as technician jailed in gate installation case

A technician who fitted an automated gate to the garden of a house near Norwich has been jailed for manslaughter after it fell onto the home owner and killed her.

Jill Lunn, 56, died in April 2013, when the automatic gate fell on her at her home in Blofield Heath, near Norwich.

When the remote-controlled automatic mechanism failed, Mrs Lunn tried to pull the 300kg iron gate closed. However, safety-stop devices had not been fitted to prevent it sliding off a steel track on the ground when opened by hand.


The gate was installed by Robert Churchyard, 52, who was working for Automated Garage Doors & Gates Ltd. He had worked for the company for 20 years. Both he and the company were found guilty of safety offences at Norwich Crown Court in September. They were sentenced yesterday.

Churchyard was sentenced to three and a half years in prison for manslaughter by gross negligence; the company was fined £12,000 for breaching the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008.

Read more here.


Workers need legal protection, not voluntary standards

An international standard for health and safety may sound like a good idea, but the current proposals could let many workers down, argues Hugh Robertson, senior policy officer at the TUC.

Hugh Robertson, Trades Union Congress

The International Standards Organisation (ISO) is developing a standard, called ISO45001, for the certification of employers’ health and safety management systems. However, the standard has been met with strong opposition from international employer and union bodies on the basis that this matter should be dealt with through social dialogue and through regulation.

They also believed that international standards on labour issues were a matter for the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which has developed 13 conventions on health and safety that have been agreed by trade union, employer and government representatives.

A new draft of ISO45001 has recently been published, and is out for consultation with voting taking place between 19 May and 13 July. Last year, an earlier draft was rejected following criticism from a number of countries and organisations, including the European Trade Union Confederation. Despite considerable criticisms of the overall structure and content of the first draft, the second draft does not make many substantial changes and few of the criticisms of the structure have been addressed.

Read more here.