There has been a dramatic rise in the size of Health & Safety fines in the last year and the latest case sees furniture giant DFS having to pay up £1m after a worker was injured.

We recently reported how, since the introduction of last February’s Health & Safety Offences Sentencing Guidelines, fines have gone through the roof.

In this case, a worker was unloading furniture frames when struck by an unsecured, unstable load. He suffered neck and head injuries.

Failure to manage workplace risks

The court heard how Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found DFS had failed to adequately manage the risks involved in moving heavy loads. The company also failed to supervise the work despite near misses being reported from unsecured loads.

Sentence

DFS Trading Limited pleaded guilty to breaking the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. It was fined £1million and ordered to pay costs of £15,000.

The HSE said DFS had “fundamental and systemic failings” in its Health & Safety management and this was far from what is expected. The HSE added the company had the ability to deliver higher standards but “unfortunately DFS were unable to do that on this occasion and a preventable accident was allowed to occur”.

DFS said the case highlighted areas where its procedures were not as strong as they should have been. The company claims to have recently invested heavily in Health & Safety and to have reviewed its procedures.

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