Quick-thinking nightclub staff most likely saved the life of a worker at a nearby Tesco store who was crushed by a roll cage full of juice cartons that he was unloading from a lorry.
Oxford City Council’s EH team praised the health and safety and first aid training of staff at the club who came to the aid of Piotr Grzela outside the Tesco Metro on Magdalen Street in Oxford in the early hours of 13 February 2018. He had been crushed against the pavement and suffered two severe fractures to his legs, severed blood vessels and a fracture to his wrist.
Earlier this month Tesco was fined £300,000 for two offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act. The supermarket giant was also ordered to pay costs of over £34,000. The district judge particularly noted Grzela’s bravery following the incident and “failure in delivery procedures at every level” at the store.
Grzela and another store worker had been unloading deliveries from the lorry on the night of the incident. Against guidance, they were moving the roll cages on their own instead of in pairs. Grzela had not received training on moving roll cages and Tesco accepted that he was not trained for that job.
EH officer Rebecca Jeffries, who worked on the case, said: “Although system failures occurred within Tesco, the training in health and safety and first aid of the nightclub staff and their rapid response to the accident saved Mr Grzela’s legs – and quite possibly his life. Making sure staff are trained and confident with dealing with health and safety and first aid remains as important as ever.”
She said that the case against such a large company was initially daunting, but with help from colleagues and a robust enforcement policy, “everything came together”.
“Even with the biggest companies with huge resources at their disposal and that have primary authorities to deal with things like health and safety, the work that we do as EH officers is essential to protect workers and the public. This was a tragic case that at times was also emotionally difficult for me but my hope is that a successful prosecution will mean that lessons will be learned, not just in relation to this accident, but with regards to health and safety, training and employee welfare in general,” Jeffries said.