Morrisons fined £3.5m after employee dies at work

Morrisons has been fined £3.5 million after an epileptic employee died when he suffered a seizure and fell from a staircase in one of its stores.

Matthew Gunn, 27, had serious head injuries after the fall at a Morrisons store in Gloucestershire in September 2014.

Having previously denied three health and safety charges, the retailer was convicted by a jury at Gloucester Crown Court. The company then admitted a fourth charge prior to the trial.

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The court heard Mr Gunn died three-and-a-half months after his mother had warned managers of the risk to her son due to his frequent seizures.

Richard Atkins KC, prosecuting, told the court Morrisons knew of Mr Gunn’s ill-health and should have moved his locker to the ground floor and stopped him using the stairs.

“The defendant knew of the risk posed by the stairs to Matthew Gunn,” he said.

“Many in the management were aware of the frequency of the tonic-clonic seizures and the prosecution submits that by the time of the fatal failings on September 25, 2014, there was a highly likely high level of harm occurring.”

Richard Matthews KC, defending, said he would address the court on the sentencing guidelines which were “cold and widely removed the human tragedy that this case concerns”.

“Nothing that I say in that cold way is intended to remove anything from that tragedy,” he said.

Judge Moira Macmillan said in the trial: “Matthew was forced to use the stairs at least eight times a day for each of his breaks as he had to keep his cigarettes in his locker.

“Morrisons, as Matthew’s employers, have a duty to ensure his health and safety. The jury decided that using the stairs for the amount of times he did, was a contributory factor to his death.

“The company failed to carry out a risk assessment. Morrisons fell short of the standards expected for somebody suffering from epilepsy.”

She added: “Morrisons, in failing to move Matthew’s locker downstairs, is indisputable. The company failed to treat him as an individual and make appropriate changes. I accept that the risks were specific to Matthew.”

It comes as Morrisons has come under fire and is being urged to sign an animal welfare policy to improve its animal welfare conditions, after allegedly “refusing” to act on it.



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