A convenience store retailer from Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, and delivery firm DHL have been fined £140,000 following a health and safety breach which led to the death of a delivery driver.
Driver Keith Jarman was crushed by a laden roll cage during a delivery to the store back in December 2012.
A hearing at Bradford Crown Court this week revealed that Jarman had been trying to manoeuvre the produce-laden roll-cage into the Oasis (Nisa Local) convenience store when he fell down an unguarded set of steps and the cage landed on him. He died at the scene.
The store had recently adopted a new system for receiving deliveries, following an enlargement of the internal lift used to take goods down to the basement.
Prosecutor Nicholas De La Poer told Bradford Crown Court that since the lift enlargement in January 2012, produce had been delivered in roll-cages instead of on pallets.
The system of work for moving roll-cages into the lift next to the unmarked and unguarded staircase was “inherently and obviously unsafe,” he said.
Neither the store nor DHL had carried out a risk assessment following the changeover to roll-cages.
The store’s director John Gumbley, who was there when the accident happened, has been deeply affected by the incident.
His barrister Matthew Gent said: “All those that worked for the company found it deeply upsetting. This was a tragic oversight in the context of a company that overall is professionally run.”
The court heard that both companies had good health and safety records.
Oasis has been fined £60,000, plus £7,300 in costs after it admitted failing to ensure the safety of a non-employee, while DHL has been fined £80,000 after it admitted a similar breach of Health and Safety at Work regulations.
Oasis has been given five years to pay the total amount while DHL has 28 days.
Judge Durham Hall said the death was “not as a result of penny-pinching or cost cutting,” rather it was a failure to recognise that the system of work was unsafe.
A number of improvements have been made at the store since the tragedy, including the installation of a yellow, self-closing gate at the top of the stairs.