Morrisons fined £3.5m after worker falls to death on stairs

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Morrisons supermarket missed opportunities to prevent the death of an employee with epilepsy, a court heard.

The supermarket retailer was fined £3.5 million after Matthew Gunn died on 7 Oct 2014 when he fell downstairs at a store in Gloucestershire.

On 25 September 2014, Matthew, 27, had been going upstairs to his locker where he worked at the supermarket's Tewkesbury store.

It is believed he had a seizure on the stairs, and fell, causing ultimately fatal head injuries. He later died in hospital on 7 October 2014.

Morrisons supermarket, Tewkesbury. Photograph: Geograph / Philip Halling

Morrisons - which was aware of Mr Gunn's epileptic condition - was deemed to have “missed opportunities to ensure his safety”, said Tewkesbury Borough Council, prosecuting the company.

According to the BBC report of the case, the prosecution argued that Morrisons knew he had epilepsy and was prone to seizures but did not move his locker downstairs to make the workplace safer for him.

They added that because the staff canteen was upstairs he should also have been allowed to use the public café on the ground floor at discount rates.

Tewkesbury Borough Council's Head of Community Services, Peter Tonge, said: “This was a long and difficult investigation, and the successful court outcome is a reflection of the dedication and professionalism of our investigation team.

“Matthew Gunn was extremely vulnerable to health and safety risks in his workplace due to his severe epilepsy.

“Despite being aware of the risks, Morrisons failed to put in place a number of simple measures which could have kept Matthew safe at work.”

The company failed to conduct a proper risk assessment including to review risks to which Mr Gunn, a sufferer of the condition, might be exposed.

Morrisons also admitted a charge of failing to supply the council with requested information relating to the death of the employee.

Mr Tonge added: “Morrisons failed to co-operate with elements of our investigation, and we are satisfied that the substantial fine imposed by the court reflects the seriousness of the omissions and failures on the part of the company.

“We hope this court outcome will send a message to all employers of the importance of complying with basic health and safety duties, and properly assessing risks, especially when it comes to vulnerable employees.”

Richard Matthews KC, who defended Morrisons, said that the breach arose from a “an isolated set of circumstances.”

"The company demonstrates the highest commitment to its employees,” he told the BBC.



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