£190,000 fine after customer scarred for life by falling flat pack at Aylesbury’s B&M store

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B&M store bosses in Aylesbury failed in their duty to protect a customer who was injured by 30kg of falling flat pack furniture a judge has ruled.

The customer at the chain’s Cambridge Street store was hospitalised and pemanently scarred after two flat pack wardrobes fell on them in December 2014.

After pleading guilty to an offence of failing to manage its Aylesbury store in accordance with health and safety legislation, B&M was fined £190,000 and ordered to pay full costs of £9,500 at a hearing on Tuesday.

The prosecution, brought by Aylesbury Vale District Council, alleged that the company failed to adequately assess the risks of displaying large and heavy items in the popular store, failed to ensure adequate controls were in place to prevent such items causing injury, failed to have an effective system for ensuring that concerns were raised and responded to across the national chain of stores and failed to properly train store managers in assessment health and safety risks.

The case was heard before Judge Francis Sheridan at Aylesbury Crown Court on 19 July 2016.

In passing the sentence, he confirmed that a substantial fine was justified to avoid companies taking a commercial view in relation to compliance with health and safety.

Judge Sheridan gave the company credit for the fact it had no previous convictions for health and safety and had compensated the victim of the accident.

Councillor Beville Stanier, cabinet member for environment and waste (which covers health and safety) at Aylesbury Vale District Council, said: “This was a serious matter which could have been prevented by assessing the risks associated with storing large and heavy goods and ensuring that effective safety controls were understood and implemented.

“It is also vital that organisations communicate effectively with their employees to ensure that any health and safety concerns can be raised and swiftly actioned.”