Hugo Boss has been fined £1.2 million after a four-year-old boy was tragically crushed to death by an 18-stone mirror.
Austen Harrison was with his parents Simon and Irina at the designer brand’s pop-up store in Bicester Village, Oxfordshire, when a 7ft-high unsecured mirror came down on top of him.
He suffered irreversible brain damage in the pop-up shop accident on June 4, 2013, and was pronounced dead at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital four days later.
Mirror ‘balancing like a domino’
Austen, from Crawley, West Sussex, had gone into the changing room area to try on a suit. In there was a heavy three-way mirror that was described as balancing upright like a domino piece.
Instructions for the mirror say it should be properly fixed to a reinforced wall, but it was standing against a stud wall.
An inquest jury at Oxford Crown Court returned a narrative verdict, while coroner Darren Salter described the incident as “an accident waiting to happen”.
Health and safety breaches
Hugo Boss later admitted offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
Prosecuting, Barry Berlin said the company had experienced “systemic failures” in its implementation of health and safety checks at the store.
Monthly safety checks were introduced in Hugo Boss stores by 2000 but these did not take place in the Bicester shop, the court was told.
The company has now taken steps to enforce health and safety checks, with specific attention paid to reviewing mirrors in its stores.
Representing Hugo Boss, Jonathan Laidlaw QC said the company had admitted a series of failings from the day of the incident, and the consequence of these failings is “as awful as one could reasonably imagine”.
Date Published: September 9, 2015
Author: Jonathan Brown