£60k fine for Kent Blaxill after woman injured in Colchester store

Colchester Magistrates' Court

Colchester Magistrates' Court - Credit: Su Anderson

A major north Essex building supplies firm has been fined £60,000 after a customer was left seriously injured when she was hit by a forklift truck at a store.

Kent Blaxill & Co admitted three health and safety offences at Colchester Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday after a Colchester Borough Council prosecution.

The victim, Christina Wallace, was hit by the truck when crossing the rear yard of the company’s Layer Road store in September 2014, causing a head injury which has left her without the senses of taste of smell.

The yard was used by staff and customers both on foot and in a range of vehicles, but there was no pedestrian crossing marked between the timber sheds and the heavy-side shop, where customers pay for materials.

The forklift truck was overtaking a vehicle parked by a customer in front of the timber sheds, and the driver had been checking for oncoming traffic from the right when the accident occurred.

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Magistrates heard there were no priority markings showing which vehicle had right of way at the junction.

Kent Blaxill pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the workplace was organised in such a way that pedestrians and vehicles could circulate in a safe manner, failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees at work, and failing to ensure non-workers were not exposed to risks to their own health or safety.

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Magistrates imposed the maximum £20,000 fine for each offence, and ordered the firm to pay £3,370 in costs and court charges.

Tina Bourne, Colchester borough councillor for public protection, said: “This is an extremely unfortunate case for everyone involved – but especially for the victim.

“It serves as a dreadful reminder that laws which uphold health and safety standards exist for a very good reason, and flouting them can have tragic, and sometimes even catastrophic, consequences.

“Our health and safety officers take a very dim view indeed of those who fail to put safety first, and they match this commitment with an excellent track-record of successfully prosecuting those whose actions, and inactions, lead to injury and endanger life.”

In a statement Kent Blaxill said: “Kent Blaxill deeply regrets the unfortunate incident.

“Kent Blaxill has had a very good health and safety record over many years and was deeply shocked by this incident.

“As a result we have conducted a thorough review, with the guidance of the Colchester health and safety office, and have redesigned our yard.

“These changes were implemented immediately and the seriousness with which Kent Blaxill responded was acknowledged by the magistrates in court.

“We continue to take health and safety very seriously to ensure the safety of both customers and our staff.”

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