Company heavily fined for failing to carry out safety audit

Mail and logistics company DHL was fined £2.6 million in October 2019 following the death of a worker at a site the company had recently acquired. The accident could have been prevented if the company had carried out a health and safety audit.

In early 2016 a stack of eight tyre frames fell over at DHL’s tyre distribution warehouse in Coventry.  The top two frames landed on an internal office causing it to collapse. One of the employees inside the office was killed; another seriously injured with two more staff members receiving minor injuries.

Following the accident, an investigation by Coventry City Council inspectors found that the tyre frames, which weighed nearly 600kg each, were stacked in an unstable way, were too high and too close to the internal office.  It was likely that a fork-lift truck had bumped into the stack causing it to fall.

The root causes of the accident were identified as: a lack of a health and safety audit on takeover; no risk assessments; insufficient staff training; and inadequate floor markings and guidance on stacking the frames. At the subsequent court case DHL were fined £2.6 million for the ‘serious corporate failure’ in breaching its duty of care to its employees and failings in its risk assessment process.

DHL had acquired the warehouse only five months prior to the accident. It had failed to carry out a detailed health and safety audit of the hazards and risks on site.  If it had done so, it is probable that it would have identified the risk from the stack of tyre frames and done something about it.

Aegis has competent and experienced health and safety professionals who can carry out comprehensive health and safety audits for clients. If you would like to know more, please contact us on 01772 73652.