£400k fine after worker suffers life-changing injuries

A builders’ merchant has been fined GBP400,000 after two workers at its Margate branch suffered severe injuries in a forklift accident. Twenty sheets of metal mesh slipped off a truck’s forks at the town’s Jewson yard, crushing an employee’s legs and ankles.

The Jewson yard in Margate where the incident happened The Jewson yard in Margate where the incident happened

He was left with life-changing injuries as a result of the incident last August, while another worker was struck on the head – sustaining deep cuts and lacerations. Thanet District Council’s (TDC) public protection team launched an investigation and the authority decided to prosecute Jewson’s parent company, Saint Gobain Building Distribution Ltd, for health and safety failings.

The firm, which admitted its guilt, was accused of failing to provide instruction, training and supervision to protect the welfare of its employees.

A sentencing hearing at Folkestone Magistrates Court last Thursday heard how risk assessments were poorly handled at the yard off Tivoli Road. Bad communication also allowed problems with metal mesh removal at the site to continue.

Jewson is one of the UK's leading builders' merchants Jewson is one of the UK’s leading builders’ merchants

There was a lack of training and understanding by the employees, and poor supervision by the management, with inadequate information, instruction and training being relayed. Saint Gobain Building Distribution Ltd pleaded guilty to the health and safety failings, and the victim who sustained the most significant injuries read out a moving witness impact statement.

A district judge handed down a fine of GBP600,000 which was reduced to GBP400,000 due to the firm’s guilty plea.

Costs of GBP23,094 will also be paid to the council.

Speaking after the sentencing, Cllr Jill Bayford, the council’s portfolio holder for environmental health, said the fine was “fair”.

The hearing took place at Folkestone Magistrates Court The hearing took place at Folkestone Magistrates Court

“TDC will investigate and take enforcement action against employers who don’t take health and safety at work seriously, especially where this results in the injury of others,” he said.

“We feel that the fine handed down was fair and hope that this will bring some closure to all those who were affected by the accident.”