In November 2014 Mr Richardson was helping to unload a delivery from an eight foot platform. The platform had no guard rail, resulting in Mr Richardson falling directly onto concrete and sustaining fatal brain injuries.
Decco – the Cheshire based homeware firm has been fined £2.2m as a result of the fatality. This is the largest fine to date for a local authority prosecution.
The investigation by EHO’s uncovered that the gentleman had undergone a basic induction as well as training in manual handling, but there was no record of him having any training on working at height. EHOs also found that the safety mechanism on the platform was faulty, the gate should spring close, however it could be, and was frequently, left open.
Decco pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act.
The Bucks Free Press reported that the sentencing Judge, Francis Sheridan, labelled the company ‘idiotic’ and that its safety failures were ‘breathtaking’. It reported Mr Sheridan as saying: ‘The design [of the gate] was a Heath Robinson do-it-yourself contraption, in my view. The whole of the edge was unguarded which was simply disgraceful.
‘This was an obvious danger. With or without safety advice, it would be idiotic to proceed without having regard to that. ‘One doesn’t need guidance, one just needs a modicum of common sense to realise this system was wholly inadequate and a disaster waiting to happen.
‘Those responsible for this company should hang their heads in shame at the failings that led to a man’s death.’Decco was also ordered to pay the councils full prosecution costs of £21K. It has since replaced its old gate system with a swing over palette gate, the HSE recommended design in this case.
The judge in this case followed the new sentencing guidelines, which consider culpability and harm as well as factoring in a company’s size and turnover.