Supermarket fined after chair accident
A SUPERMARKET giant has been ordered to pay more than £6,000 after a man was left “permanently disfigured” following an accident with a deckchair.Ian Last, from Bury St Edmunds, now needs plastic surgery to fix the end of his finger, which was severed during an incident at his home last year.
A SUPERMARKET giant has been ordered to pay more than £6,000 after a man was left “permanently disfigured” following an accident with a deckchair.
Ian Last, from Bury St Edmunds, now needs plastic surgery to fix the end of his finger, which was severed during an incident at his home last year.
Yesterday , Sainsbury's admitted not providing assembly and safety instructions with the chairs, which were sold for £25 in its stores nationwide.
Magistrates in Bury heard how Mr Last's wife bought two of the flat-pack chairs from her local Sainsbury's store last May.
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“At no time did Mrs Last notice any instructions or warnings with the chair,” said prosecution lawyer Hugh Rowland, who was acting on behalf of Trading Standards for Suffolk County Council.
“Days later Mrs Last tried to assemble one of the chairs. There were clearly two different ways to assemble it.”
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Later that day Mr Last, a trained engineer, returned from work. His ten-old-year daughter sat in the chair first, before he sat in it himself.
The chair collapsed, slicing seven millimetres off the top of his finger, and fracturing the bone in his right hand.
“There was a clear hazard in the ability to construct the chair in two different ways,” said Mr Rowland.
“The accident, which was witnessed by his wife and two young children, has caused Mr Last considerable mental and physical stress. He is still in pain and is awaiting treatment from a plastic surgeon.”
A product recall was issued in June last year, after Mrs Last contacted the store to inform staff of the incident.
Of the 16,000 deckchairs sold, 124 complaints were received by Sainsbury's, 10 of which were to inform the store of injuries sustained as a direct result of the chairs.
The court heard that an investigation carried out by the Institute of Occupational Ergonomics at Nottingham University, on behalf of Trading Standards, revealed the two main areas of concern were a lack of assembly instructions or labels, and the fact that the deckchairs could be put together in an apparently correct and secure manner, but would instantly collapse under the weight of someone sitting on it.
Magistrate Colin Reeve said: “The product was not properly checked when it arrived in the UK. This is a quality control issue, and Sainsbury's did not include the instructions that it should have done.”
Mr Reeve fined Sainsbury's £3,500, and ordered the firm to pay nearly £3,000 in costs.
Speaking after the trial, Mr Last said: “At first I thought it was just a cut, but when I looked down I saw the end of my finger on the garden decking.
“I've lost around seven or eight millimetres, at an angle. I had to stay in hospital overnight, and had an operation to put the skin back over the bone. I had another operation in August as it was not healing properly and may possibly need another op next year.
“It has been pretty horrible as this has been dragging on for a long time.
“It could have taken my daughter's hand off or it could even have been fatal. I don't think £6,000 to big company like Sainsbury's is a lot when they are selling goods to the public with no instructions as such.
A spokesman for Sainsbury's said: “The deck chairs were not supplied ready assembled by the supplier, despite our clear instruction for them to do so.
“As soon as it became clear the deck chairs posed a risk, we withdrew them from sale.
“We apologise unreservedly for any distress caused to our customers as a result of these products.”