Leading furniture retailer ordered to pay more than £1m over health and safety breaches

A leading UK furniture retailer has been ordered to pay more than £1million upon pleading guilty to numerous health and safety breaches.

DFS Trading Limited faced an investigation from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a warehouse worker sustained serious head and neck injuries in June 2015 while unloading wooden furniture frames.

According to reports, the anonymous worker was knocked unconscious after being struck by unsecured furniture which fell from an unstable load.

Investigating the site of the incident, HSE found “fundamental and systemic failings” in the company’s “health and safety management systems”.

An H&S spokesperson told a Court that the company had failed to supervise the work taking place at its warehouse in Doncaster, and that a number of “near misses from unsecured loads” had been reported at the site.

HSE inspector Lyn Spooner said that the failings identified were “far from what would be expected from a company of their size”.

DFS Trading Limited pleaded guilty to offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The company was fined £1m and ordered to pay costs of £15,099.

In a statement, a DFS spokesperson said: “This case has highlighted some areas where, on occasion, our procedures were not as strong as they should have been.

“The employee who was injured, in June 2015, is a valued member of our team; we deeply regret the accident he suffered and we’re very glad that he is back at work in his previous role.

“Over the last eighteen months we’ve invested heavily in health and safety including reviewing our health and safety procedures and retraining all our employees”.

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Donna Martin

Donna Martin

Partner at Mackrell Turner Garrett
Donna Martin is a partner in the Employment team of Mackrell Turner Garrett’s London office. As an Employment Relations Specialist, she advises both employers and employees on a full range of contentious and non-contentious issues. She joined the firm in 2011 after training and qualifying at Vizards Wyeth Solicitors in London, where she practiced employment law and commercial litigation.