Swindon logistics firm fined £125,000 for serious health and safety breaches
A multi-national logistics firm in Swindon admitted failing to keep its employees safe at a hearing at Swindon Crown Court yesterday (9 Feb).
Published: Friday, 10th February 2023
GXO Logistics Services UK, formerly known as XPO, which operates out of the Iceland distribution centre in West Swindon, was fined £125,000 and ordered to pay £80,623 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Section 2 of The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act (1974).
The firm, which employs 130,000 people worldwide – around 700 of which are based in Swindon – was also charged with a RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) offence for failing to keep Swindon Borough Council informed of accidents at its depot.
GXO took over operations of the site in August 2016 and the court heard how the company then assumed responsibility for its safe running.
Sam Jones, representing Swindon Borough Council, told the court how GXO had failed to maintain the health and safety of its staff upon taking over, resulting in a number of accidents taking place in the months that followed.
The company also failed to report some of the accidents to the local authority within the necessary timescale.
The court heard how GXO failed to ensure that risk assessments and safe systems of work were regularly reviewed to manage and control the risks associated with the movement of vehicles and pedestrians in its warehouses.
This failure contributed to an accident on the site on 23 June 2017, which resulted in one of its employees becoming trapped by a cage when it was hit by a vehicle operating inside the warehouse.
The Council’s Environmental Health Officers attended the site to investigate and then carried out a number of subsequent inspections culminating in a series of Improvement Notices being served on GXO.
His Honour Judge James Townsend in his summing up described the accident involving the employee as “unpleasant” and emphasised that breaches of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 need to be taken seriously.
He added that employees rely on their employers to put safe systems in place and that GXO had failed to do so.
GXO was ordered to pay all the costs awarded by the end of next month (31 March) and to pay a victim surcharge of £170.
Councillor Steve Heyes, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Safety, said: “Every employer, no matter how large or small, has a duty of care to its staff and must ensure every single one of its employees is safe within the workplace.
“GXO fell way short of this minimum requirement and I hope this prosecution and large fine serves as a warning to all businesses that they need to take health and safety extremely seriously or we will not hesitate to take action.”