A recent article published by Environmental Health News, the magazine of the CIEH revealed that budget retailer Poundstretcher has been fined a total over £188K plus costs for putting lives at risk of fire.
Since 2010 Poundstretcher has been fined a total over £188K plus costs of prosecution £40K and the recently introduced FFI charges from the HSE. The figures relate to 6 individual prosecutions that have been brought against various branches during the last five years. The highest fine imposed was £60k and the lowest £12K. It seems that the company have put volume of stock needed ahead of the safety of their employees and customers.
Any business that would under value the safety of their employees and customers, so often, raises serious concern about the management of the company. What must the senior management team think when yet another prosecution is brought against them?
Perhaps they haven’t heard of The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. This is a landmark in law and for the first time, companies and organisations can be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.
For the employees though, who have to work in these conditions, it quite often creates a feeling of helplessness. Most people that I train in fire safety have enough common sense to know that if you block a fire exit you might not get out alive. Behind the scenes though, management are the bosses and employees must do as they’re told and suffer the stress of that knowledge for fear of their jobs.
When people are forced to work with a daily worry about their own safety, they cannot work to the best of their ability. So why don’t management see this? After all, it’s likely that a store manager will be amongst the casualties or fatalities along with their staff. Blocked behind the mountain of stock, rubbish and other items that stand between them and safety.
Fire in any place of work must be the most devastating event and so must be taken seriously. I would consider it to be the first item on the safety agenda since it can cause the most catastrophic outcome. Losing lives through fire should always come before profits.
To discuss and arrange a free health and safety assessment, call 0161 298 1040. Or to get your team trained in fire safety, don’t delay. It could be the best thing you did for your business
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