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Iceland fined £2.5m for AC worker’s fall

UK: Iceland Foods has been fined £2.5m after an air conditioning contractor died in a fall at a store in Rotherham.

Tony Hopkins (58) was changing filters on an air conditioning units at the Iceland store when he fell almost 3m from a platform and through a suspended ceiling in the store’s warehouse.

He sustained fatal injuries from the fall at the Iceland store in Sycamore Road, Rotherham on 28 October 2013.

An investigation by Adrian Monkhouse, principal environmental health officer at Rotherham Council, revealed that there were no barriers in place to prevent falls from the platform, the area of the platform immediately in front of the access ladder was restricted (just 45cm in width) and there were several tripping hazards in this area, including cabling and the fixing points for the ladder itself. 

Iceland Foods was instructed to take this area out of use until suitable protective measures had been installed on the plant platform. Once this work was carried out to the satisfaction of the investigating officer, the plant platform was put back into use in March 2014. 

Further investigations revealed that Iceland Foods had not carried out a risk assessment to consider access to the plant platform either by contractors or their own employees. Iceland argued that they had intended for a guardrail to be installed around the plant platform and had in fact paid for one during refurbishment of the store. 

In court Iceland contended that they were entitled to rely on the specialist contractors who carried out work on the plant platform to identify the missing handrail. These claims were rejected by the prosecution and the court. 

In July of this year, Iceland was found guilty of breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work’ Act 1974 following a three-week trial held at Sheffield Crown Court.

In sentencing hearing at Grimsby Crown Court this week the company was fined £1.25m for each offence and ordered to pay the full costs of £65,019.64 to Rotherham Council.

Karen Hanson, Rotherham’s assistant director for community safety and street scene, said that the case highlighted the importance of companies considering not only their own employees but the work of contractors as part of their health and safety arrangements. 

“All businesses should be aware of the importance of health and safety – particularly for high-risk activities such as working from heights,” she said.

Related stories:

Ac service engineer dies in fall – 1 November 2013
UK: A sub-contractor is reported to have died in a fall on Monday while carrying out routine service work on an air conditioning unit in an Iceland store in Rotherham. Read more…

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