Topshop and former owners Arcadia Group have been fined £1 million due to safety failings, resulting in the death of a ten-year-old boy. Both businesses have been found guilty of health and safety breaches five years later including failing to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment as part of their safety management system.
What was the health and safety conviction?
On 13 February 2017, ten-year-old Kaden suffered fatal head injuries when a 110kg barrier fell on top of him.
The jury had been told that the 10-year-old was swinging on a barrier moments before it fell on his head. The swinging caused the barrier to tip and fall on to his head, jurors heard.
The plinth supporting the top-heavy barrier had been fixed to the floor with wooden screws that were inappropriate and only suitable for hanging a picture, therefore the barrier was inherently unstable and patently defective.
Why were they found guilty?
It was ultimately agreed that the fittings used to secure the barrier were inadequate to sustain any force applied to the barrier and had not been properly installed to allow suitable contact within the floor.
In addition, a risk assessment had not been carried out on the queue barrier, both pre-installation and once installed in the store.
Topshop and Arcadia were convicted of failure to discharge health and safety duties under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They failed to ensure that the design, manufacture or maintenance of the barrier posed no risks to the public’s health and safety.
The importance of risk assessments
Topshop had not undertaken a specific risk assessment for the queue barrier, and in general there had been no consideration about how this or similar items differed from the main structure, such as walls or furniture.
Undertaking a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and audit would have determined that the barrier was top-heavy and inherently unstable if freestanding, and that it was inadequately secured.
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