Iceland "missed 11 chances to prevent worker's death"

By Dave Doyle | 18/07/2017

Iceland 'missed 11 chances to prevent worker's death'
Iceland on Sycamore Road in Eastwood.

FROZEN food chain Iceland failed to put in place any one of 11 measures to ensure the safety of a worker who fell to his death at a Rotherham store, a court heard.

Iceland is on trial at Sheffield Crown Court for health ans safety breaches over the death of contractor Tony Hopkins at the Eastwood branch in October 2013.

Prosecutor Mr Nicholas de la Poer yesterday summed up his case for the jury, which is expected to retire to consider its verdict this afternoon.

Mr Hopkins (58) of Silsden in West Yorkshire, was changing air conditioning filters in the roof space at the shop on Sycamore Road when he fell three metres  from the roof space and died after landing on his head.

Staff and medics tried to help Mr Hopkins, but he was pronounced dead around one hour later at Rotherham Hospital.

He said there had been 11 ways in which the firm could have made the workplace safer for Mr Hopkins, including checking for a handrail or warning contractors that it had not done so.

The court heard that the service platform posed several risks, including trip hazards and a ladder which was not properly secured.

The supermarket denies one count of failing to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the safety of contractors on its premises.

It faces a further charge of failing to protect its employees, who also accessed the platform from which Mr Hopkins fell.

Mr de la Poer told jurors that the circumstances of Mr Hopkins’ death were “entirely avoidable”.

He said: “At the heart of this case is a tragedy.

“Mr Hopkins, a man with years ahead of him with his wife and family, fell to his death at work.

“Iceland presented a foreseeable and avoidable risk of harm to anyone going up on that platform to help it run its operations.”

Mr de la Poer highlighted the absence of a handrail at the top of the ladder —a risk identified while the shop was being fitted, prompting Iceland to order one installed.

But this work was never done and lawyers disagreed, during the two-week trial, about who should have checked and fixed this.

Mr de la Poer said it was Iceland’s responsibility to ensure that everyone working in its site was protected from harm.

He said: "It is the job of the defence to convince you that none of these (the 11 measures he highlighted to ensure safety) were reasonably practicable.

“If you decide that any one of them was, it would deprive Iceland of this defence.”

He added: “It was perfectly reasonable for contractors to assume that a massive, national chain with 900 stores and four safety managers would have done a risk assessment for this platform.

“Everyone who went up there would have assumed that Iceland had done this, so they would not have been as on their guard.

“But this platform posed a risk of serious injury or death to employees and anyone Iceland invited on site to maintain its air conditioning.”

The trial continues.

 



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