22 Feb 2019

Protection against poor workmanship


The owner of Topshop (Arcadia Group Ltd) has been prosecuted after a child was injured in its Glasgow store. The young girl was swinging on a queue barrier when it fell on her, causing a fractured skull.

The barrier had been installed incorrectly by Topshop and was not firmly attached to the floor. The Arcadia Group Ltd was fined £450,000.

The Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”) found that two previous barriers had been fitted without a safe system of installation, and this barrier had not been fitted according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

As an organisation – how do you prevent this from happening to you?

Doing some careful planning before starting work on any project, will help you ensure it runs smoothly and safely for everyone.

Before you start the project, think about resources. Can you do this yourself or do you need a third-party contractor?

If you can do this in house, check you have the right skills, knowledge and equipment. If you do, then take the following actions:

    1. Plan and risk assess the installation – for example delivery and storage of goods; barriers to prevent access; safe traffic routes while work takes place; and the job itself.
    2. Ensure that employees are competent to complete the task, that they understand what’s required of them, the equipment needed and they have been trained in its use. Ensure that they follow a safe system of work during the installation to protect both them and others.
    3. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions for installation. To avoid the Topshop case, that the correct bolts/fixtures are being used, and that the floor or wall can support the maximum weight of the intended installation.
    4. After installation, ensure the equipment is safe to us, and train others how to use it, if required.
    5. Regularly inspect the works for damage or wear and tear.
    6. Prevent unauthorised use, by ensuring correct signage is displayed and providing monitoring of the area if required.

If you decide to engage a third-party contractor, you need to ensure that you vet the contractor and research them as much as you have for the item of equipment you are purchasing.

To help avoid accidents, check the following:

    1. Is this type of installation their core business? Are they competent and trained to complete the task – ask questions and get evidence if required.
    2. Ask for method statements (how they will complete the task) and risk assessments (their assessment of hazards for the job and how they will manage it).
    3. Do they have a good safety record? Check the HSE website for prosecutions
    4. Do they have the correct insurance?
    5. How will they coordinate works on site with your staff and possibly the public?
    6. How will you monitor progress of the job, between the contractor and yourself?
    7. When will the job takes place. Will this be out of hours; will you need to make arrangements regarding security?
    8. Once the work is complete, review the installation with the contractor, ensure you are happy with the job before they are finished on site.

Planning any works prior to commissioning, will make them safe and less stressful for you, your staff, and the public!

To discuss this or anything else, please contact me on 01793 818300 or send me an email