£300,000 fine for Kidderminster B&Q after customer hit by pole
A DIY store in Kidderminster has been fined £300,000 after a customer suffered a head injury after being hit by a large metal pole.
The customer was shopping in the Kidderminster B&Q store, off Green Street, in July 2017 when they were struck by the pole.
The metal banner pole, which weighed 2.6kg and was being used as part of a seasonal promotional display, fell 3.6 metres from racking while the customer was reaching for a product.
An investigation into the incident by Wyre Forest District Council's health and safety team at Worcestershire Regulatory Services discovered the poles had fallen out of the racking on previous occasions.
Although following these previous incidents, B&Q had taken steps to make the banner pole more secure by introducing retainer clips, which had a screw, it had failed to actively check that the clips were put in place correctly or at all.
The investigation revealed B&Q had no system in place for monitoring the brackets and pins – and the banner poles were not checked as part of daily checks carried out at the Kidderminster store.
The investigation further revealed the retainer clip had not been installed in the aisle where the incident took place and had not been used to secure the bracket from which the pole fell in the accident.
At the hearing at Kidderminster Magistrates Court on March 19, B&Q Plc pleaded guilty to two charges under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 for failing to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of employees and customers.
The court heard the company had exposed customers to danger and failed to protect the health, safety and welfare of its employees through unsafe systems and failing to provide necessary information, instruction, training and supervision.
B&Q was fined £300,000 and ordered to pay costs of nearly £8,000 and a victim surcharge of £170. The company conceded that the display banner poles were intrinsically unsafe and have since removed them from all stores.
Simon Wilkes, head of Worcestershire Regulatory Services, said: "This was obviously an extremely distressing incident for the victim who suffered a serious head injury in the incident.
“I am pleased that B&Q admitted their responsibilities for the health and safety of the general public and its employees and has taken action following the accident to ensure that similar incident will not occur again in any of its stores nationwide.
“We always try to work with companies to ensure they are taking health and safety seriously but will not hesitate to use the power of the law to keep the public safe and free from harm.”
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