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Home Bargains fined after trapped driver death

T.J. Morris Limited, the owners of the retail chain Home Bargains, has been fined £50,000 following the death of their employee, Gary Pickering, who was killed whilst making a delivery to their store in Dudley in September 2013.

Mr Pickering, from Swinton, Manchester, who was making a night time delivery alone to the store’s underground delivery area, was in the process of getting the tail lift of the lorry into position onto the loading platform at the shop when the tail lift closed onto his neck and head. His body was discovered approximately two hours after the accident by a security guard conducting patrols at the centre.

At Wolverhampton Crown Court on 13 March 2019 in a prosecution brought by Dudley Council, T.J Morris Limited pleaded guilty to two offences under health and safety regulations. One offence of failing to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of employees engaged in the delivery of goods at the store and one offence of failing to ensure that employees using the tail lift had available to them adequate health and safety information and written instructions. Councillor Gaye Partridge, cabinet member for communities, said:

"When there has been a failure to protect workers from serious risk it is our responsibility as a health and safety enforcing authority to take action and employers need to understand that if they do not conduct adequate risk assessments and provide their employees with the appropriate information and training that the employer will be held to account"

In court the company claimed that the cause of the accident was a design fault which led to an unforeseen risk of the tail lift snapping shut and that this matter was being pursued with the manufacturer. As well as the £50,000 fine the company is to pay costs of £150,000 and a victim surcharge of £170. Mr Pickering’s wife Sharon added: 

"Gary was a much loved and devoted husband, daddy, son and brother. We miss him every day and his loss is something we will never recover from.

"We sincerely hope that all the necessary assessments and training will be afforded to the company’s other drivers as we would not wish to hear of any other family having to go through the pain and devastation of loss that we are living with.”

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