Breaches to health and safety legislation at three Poundstretcher stores in Newbury, Newhaven and Swindon 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.
On inspection, it was 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. Speaking at the sentencing hearing at Portsmouth Crown Court, Judge Hetherington, said: “To blame the local management is not only deeply unattractive, coming from a major employer employing some 6,000 people, but, in my judgment, on the evidence I heard, quite unfair.”
A costs order in the sum of £65,767.74 was also made.
Louise Doughty from Swindon council said: “Poundstretcher has shown a consistent lack of care for its employees through its poor management of health and safety in its stores.”
The chairman of the Joint Public Protection Committee, Norman Jorgensen, said “This conviction and penalty highlights the importance of taking steps to protect the health and safety of employees and members of the public as well as emphasising the importance that employee training plays in this process.”
But what does this mean for your business?
This case highlights the importance of providing management with the tools to safeguard your business and your employees. The H&S Knowledge portal is designed to give you and your managers quick and easy access to reliable H&S advice, guidance and documentation. Contact the team to discuss how we can help your business remain compliant.