A firm has been fined £2.2m after a worker was left paralysed when she was crushed by a 35-stone roll cage.
Corisande Collins, 20, was crushed by a cage filled with paint pots at a Wilko store in Leicester where she worked, leaving her wheelchair bound and with a one per cent chance of walking again as a result of severe spinal injuries.
Prosecutors for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found significant failings included an overloaded roll cage, which was top-heavy and fell on Ms Collins as she pulled the cage out of a lift.
Judge Ebraham Mooncey told Leicester Crown Court: “The practical realities were essentially that heavily and unevenly laden cages were being manoeuvred around, sometimes unnecessarily, with items not even required on the shop floor. The risks were clear.”
HSE inspectors told the BBC they were "shocked" by practices at the store, adding "the systems were unsafe".
Wilko Retail Limited pleaded guilty to four offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act and was made to pay a £2.2 million fine and costs of £70,835.91.
Damian Bradley, head of employers’ liability at Slater and Gordon Lawyers, said: “When such catastrophic health and safety failings as this occur, it is essential that an optimum level of support is secured to allow an injured person to begin their protracted physical and mental recovery from the accident. It is also vitally important for a company to then learn from its mistakes, to put measures in place to reduce the risk to other workers to the lowest possible level.”
Ms Corisande is currently pursuing an employer’s liability compensation claim, the funds from which will help with rehabilitation and in providing the equipment and support she will need in the future.
A Wilko spokesperson said: ”From the beginning, Wilko has accepted full responsibility for the consequences of this tragic accident resulting in devastating injuries for one of its team members.
“Since the accident, Wilko has been supportive of Corisande and her family throughout this difficult time and will continue to do so as long as they need it.”