NEWS: Tesco fined £125k after worker burned by oven cleaner

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Budget supermarket chain Tesco Stores Ltd has been fined £125,000 after an employee suffered burns at Highwoods store in Colchester, a court heard last week.

The employee was using a corrosive cleaning product to clean an oven when it sprayed back into his face, on the day of the incident on 5 May 2016, Chelmsford Magistrates Court heard. 

At the hearing on 13 March, it was heard how the employee was not wearing any personal protective equipment such as goggles or gloves, at the time of the incident, which left the victim with burns to their left eye and eyelid.

Due to medical conditions, the employee also had difficulties in understanding and following both written and verbal instructions, which the manager was also aware of.

An accident report was filed after the incident and was investigated by the Colchester Borough Council's Health and Safety Officer.

On visiting, the Officer found a partially-used container of the product, which was marked 'corrosive'. Safety goggles were available, but were dirty and inadequately stored. Health and Safety Improvement Notices were served by the Officer and a prosecution was brought.

Tesco Stores Ltd pleaded guilty to three offences including failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees, an offence under Section 2 of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.

The company also pleaded guilty to failure to comply with Regulations 6 and 7 of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 and was sentenced to a fine of £116,000, pay costs of £10,624.20 and victim surcharge, on a 28 day payment order.

Councillor Tina Bourne, portfolio holder for housing and communities, said: "Whether your business is big or small, if you fail to meet your duties to protect your employees under health and safety legislation, you run the risk of ending up in court.

"Our role is to protect everyone at the workplace by ensuring that regulations are followed and we are now satisfied that the Tesco Extra store in Highwoods has made improvements and are no longer using the chemical and have reviewed their COSHH assessments. I am pleased that this prosecution was successful and I hope that the example prevents other incidents from taking place."


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