Garden centre fined £100,000 following hazardous chemical incident

Perrywood Garden Centre Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Perrywood Garden Centre Picture: GOOGLE MAPS - Credit: Archant

A garden centre was fined more than £100,000 after a member of staff was hurt when cleaning up hazardous chemicals.

Perrywood Garden Centre and Nurseries Ltd admitted to three safety offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act, when a member of staff developed breathing difficulties after clearing up spilt garden chemical in April 2017.

The incident was investigated after the worker complained to environmental health officers last September.

The incident occurred at Perrywood Garden Centre near Tiptree, and the company has now taken over the former Wyevale Garden Centre in Sudbury, which was purchased for £1.1m.

Basildon Magistrates’ Court was told Perrywood had a health and safety policy and arrangements in place, but these had not been reviewed nor updated to reflect the changes in the directorship of the company.

Magistrates heard how the company had not implemented the safety management system described in its own policy manual.

Even though annual audits were conducted by a health and safety consultancy, Perrywood management had failed to implement the recommendations of its most recent report, dated January 2017. This included a requirement to undertake COSHH assessments for chemical products on sale as well as additional risk assessments.

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Two of the company directors, Alan Bourne and Simon Bourne, attended court.

Pleading guilty to each charge, the company was ordered to pay £104,000 in fines, costs of £3,691.16 and a £170 victim surcharge - totalling £107,861.16 on a seven-day collection order. In sentencing, magistrates took into account the company’s turnover (which was £9,410,479 in 2017), the fact it had no previous convictions and their efforts to correct the shortfalls in the health and safety aspects of the business. The fines were also reduced by one third for a guilty plea at the first available opportunity.

The fine was imposed following a successful prosection by Colchester Borough Council.

Councillor Tina Bourne, portfolio holder for housing and communities, said: “The public can be reassured that any breaches of health and safety regulations reported to us will be investigated and where any incident meets the required legal threshold, those found to be in breach of the law will face prosecution in court.

“I hope this case serves as a reminder that we take a dim view of any business that fails to put safety first and whose actions or inaction leads to personal injury.”