One of the UK’s leading supermarket chains was fined £500,000 last week after a judge ruled at Liverpool Crown Court that they were liable for a worker falling through a Skylight roof at a store in Wirral, Merseyside.
Tesco, the owner of 7,000 stores nationwide, were told they must pay the fine for failing to provide adequate Fall Protection measures on the roof of the building.
On 13th June 2014, Andrew Burgess, a Work at Height operative, fell through the fragile Skylight and landed inside the Tesco Express store in Liscard, Wallesey. He suffered cuts, bruises and muscle damage. Customers inside the store that witnessed the incident led him to the local NHS walk-in centre, where he received medical attention.
Craig Morris, a prosecutor that represented HSE, told the judge that Burgess and three other Work at Height operatives were on the roof of the store due to a leak caused by rain. Although the work was essential, the court found that there were no sufficient Fall Protection Systems installed on the roof of the building, or around the skylight that Burgess fell through, which in turn led to the incident.
As the shop has a false ceiling, the Skylights had been painted white alongside the rest of the roof. However, the Skylights were not marked as fragile, which is a breach in health and safety regulations for Working at Height.
A colleague of Burgess’s began to mark around the Skylights with yellow warning paint to indicate the danger, but before this could be completed, Burgess fell through one of the Skylights and was subsequently injured.
Contractor Tesco maintenance is liable to pay £300,000 of the fine, while Tesco stores will pay the remaining £200,000. Both must also pay a fine of £9,379 to cover additional damages.
According to the Liverpool Echo, the court also heard that the Work at Height operatives had been on the roof at the same premises on several occasions in the preceding five years to the incident.
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