by Calum Melrose, Environmental Health Officer, Glasgow City Council.
Alfa Wholesale Limited at 111 Lancefield Street, Glasgow G3 8HZ who operate as a wholesaler of food and groceries to the catering and retailing sector were successfully prosecuted on 26th November 2020 after an employee fell more than 5 metres through a plasterboard ceiling.
The warehouseman who had been employed for less than three weeks had been involved in retrieving stock from an elevated mezzanine area. Whilst working in this area he stepped onto an adjacent unguarded plasterboard ceiling which he fell through landing on the concrete flooring below. The employee spent seven weeks in hospital after suffering bleeding to the brain and life changing injuries.
The incident occurred on 5th November 2017. Glasgow City Council (Environmental Health) as the Enforcing Authority investigated the circumstances which led to the accident. A report was submitted to the Procurator Fiscal recommending that the company responsible, Alfa Wholesale Limited, be prosecuted for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
Alfa Wholesale Limited pled guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 in that they did not ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health safety and welfare at work of their employee. The Sheriff imposed a fine of £120 000 reduced from £150 000 for an early plea.
The accident was entirely foreseeable. Employees regularly accessed the elevated area to retrieve stock which was stored adjacent to an unguarded fragile ceiling. Although risk assessments had been carried out, they did not identify the risk of falling through the plasterboard.
This was an entirely avoidable accident which has resulted in life- long consequences for the employee.