An Aldi employee was lucky to escape serious injury when he was struck by an unsecured smoking shelter, a court has heard.
Michael Simpson was taking a cigarette break at the supermarket chain’s Faverdale distribution centre when a gust of wind picked up the shelter.
He suffered soft-tissue injuries to his back and both arms in the accident at work over a year ago, while he still has nightmares about what happened.
Aldi and contractors Wilkinson Maintenance both pleaded guilty to one charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The supermarket was fined £100,000 and the contractors were fined £20,000. Both were also ordered to pay £5,000 in costs.
It is Aldi’s first health and safety conviction, something which was taken into consideration by the judge when setting fines.
The court was told how Wilkinson Maintenance had moved the metal and perspex smoking shelter to install an emergency exit at the Aldi site. It was left unsecured with Aldi believing Wilkinson would take care of it, while Wilkinson believed it was the responsibility of Aldi.
The prosecution said Mr Simpson could have been seriously injured or, at worst, killed by the unsecured shelter.
Duty of care
Aldi conducted its own investigation into the incident and has since given every maintenance manager training in relation to it.
Employers have a duty of care to look after the health and safety of their workforce at all times. This means they must provide safe working equipment and training, as well as carry out regular risk assessments to identify potential hazards and take appropriate action.
In addition to avoiding injuries in the workplace, duty of care includes looking out for the general health and well-being of employees.