KEe Systems Blog

Wholesaler fined for fatal fall

Company News, Safety

The case of the DIY wholesaler which was recently fined £2.2m following the death of an agency worker who fell from an unguarded platform, demonstrates the dangers of working in warehouse environments.   However, the incident could quite easily have been avoided if the company had carried out a thorough risk assessment of tasks and put sufficient measures in place to ensure work could be carried out safely.

The agency worker, who had worked for the company for about 6 months, was unloading a delivery from the first floor loading platform in the goods-in-department.  One of the pallets exceeded the 1.8m height restriction on the warehouse loading door so the worker lifted boxes off the top of the load so that it could be moved inside.   As he reached for a box, he slipped and fell off the edge of the platform.

The victim had been given manual handing training and a basic induction, but he had not been given any additional training, such as work at height, when he was moved to the goods-in department a week before the accident.

The local authority’s investigation of the incident found that the platform had two badly worn inward opening spring loaded gates and that staff often left the gates open when stock was due to be loaded onto the platform.  It was also common practice for workers to take items off the top of the pallets.

The council’s EHO who investigated the incident explained that the platform had no suitable guarding “The gates were just left open and provided no protection.  The company’s risk assessment was insufficient. It hadn’t looked at how [staff] were working on that platform and didn’t realise that people had to take items off the top of the pallets; it assumed the pallets were pulled straight through into the warehouse.”

The Judge told the court that the unguarded edge was an obvious danger.  “The design was a Heath Robinson do-it-yourself contraption, in my view. The whole of the edge was unguarded which was simply disgraceful.  This was an obvious danger. With or without safety advice, it would be idiotic to proceed without having regard to that.”

He concluded by stating that “One doesn’t need guidance, one just needs a modicum of common sense to realise this system was wholly inadequate and a disaster waiting to happen.”

Following the incident, the company replaced the gates with a swing-over pallet gate, which is recommended in the HSE’s warehousing guidance – HSG76.

We recently featured an article by Christian King in Warehouse & Logistics News magazine where he discussed the issue of safety in warehouses, including unloading and loading pallets safely, and outlined some simple safety measures that warehouse managers should be considering.    Click here to read Safety is Kee for Separating People from Hazards.


The recent case of a DIY wholesaler prosecuted following the death of a worker who fell from an unguarded platform at a warehouse highlights the importance of ensuring workers are protected when loading and unloading pallets.

unguarded loading bay platform