DIY giant B&Q has been fined £300,000 after a customer suffered a head injury after being struck by a large metal banner pole while shopping at the company’s Kidderminster store in July 2017.
The metal banner pole weighing 2.6kg which was part of a seasonal promotional display fell 3.6 metres from racking while the customer was reaching for a product.
An investigation into the incident by the Wyre Forest District Council’s health and safety team at Worcestershire Regulatory Services, discovered that poles had fallen out of the racking on previous occasions.
Although following these previous incidents B&Q had taken steps to make the banner pole more secure by introducing retainer clips, which had a screw, it had failed to actively check that clips were put in place correctly or at all.
The investigation revealed B&Q had no system in place for monitoring the brackets and pins and the banner poles were not checked as part of daily checks carried out at the Kidderminster store. The investigation further revealed the retainer clip had not been installed in the aisle where the incident happened and had not been used to secure the bracket from which the pole fell in the accident.
At the hearing at Kidderminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday 19 March B&Q Plc entered guilty pleas to two charges under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 for failing to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of employees and customers.
The court heard the company had exposed customers to danger and failed to protect the health, safety and welfare of its employees through unsafe systems and failing to provide necessary information, instruction, training and supervision.
District Judge Cadbury fined the company £300,000 and ordered them to pay full costs of nearly £8,000 and a victim surcharge of £170.
B&Q Plc conceded that the display banner poles were intrinsically unsafe and have since removed them from all stores.
Simon Wilkes, Head of Worcestershire Regulatory Services, said: “This was obviously an extremely distressing incident for the victim who suffered a serious head injury in the incident.
“I am pleased that B&Q admitted their responsibilities for the health and safety of the general public and its employees and has taken action following the accident to ensure that similar incident will not occur again in any of its stores nationwide.
“We always try to work with companies to ensure they are taking health and safety seriously but will not hesitate to use the power of the law to keep the public safe and free from harm.”