Preston firm fined £36k over accident which left girl, 5, needing surgery

Roccia, Preston
Roccia, Preston

A five-year-old girl had to undergo surgery for a broken foot when a loose wash basin fell onto her from an insecure vanity unit on display in a bathroom shop.

The parents of the youngster, who cannot be named, heard their daughter screaming following a “crash” behind them as they shopped in the Roccia showroom on Queen Street, Preston, on April 2 last year.

Family firm Tilemart has been fined £36,000 after it was found the 30kg display had been stuck to the wall with a silicon or glue substance, without bolts.

Preston Magistrates’ Court heard her mother turned to see her on the floor, with a broken ceramic sink next to her.

Prosecuting for Preston City Council, Ros Scott-Bell said: “Her foot was red and swollen and beginning to go purple when they removed the child’s sock.

“Paramedics were called to the store to take the injured child to the Royal Preston Hospital, and the following day she had to undergo an operation to pin her ankle.”

No health and safety risk assessment had been carried out on their displays in what the court heard was a “ serious and systemic failure”.

She added: “It was forseeable children would be present on the premises and a large number of people were at risk. There was the potential for lifechanging or even fatal injuries.”

The girl's father informed Preston City Council about the incident.

The authority prosecuted the firm over two health and safety failures following an investigation which found no health and safety risk assessment had been carried out on their displays of bathroom furniture in what the court heard was a " serious and systemic failure"

Tilemart employs 65 people across its two showrooms and warehouse and had a turnover of £7.5m in 2016.

The court heard a 'template' of a health and safety policy had been given to them six years earlier by the council but had never been completed.

Referring to the displays, defence lawyer Mark Ainsworth said: "It was believed to be a good and proper method. This company has been operating since 1994 and this issue hasn't arisen before.

"A member of staff went around and checked the other displays and no other parts were found to be coming away from the wall, so this was thought to be a good solution."

He added a significant amount of work and progress has been made to improve since.

At an earlier hearing managing director Zubeir Patel entered guilty pleas on the firm's behalf to failing to ensure a person was not exposed to a risk to their health and safety and failing to make a suitable assessment of risks to health and safety.

District Judge Gerald Chalk ordered the firm to pay a £36,000 fine, a £170 surcharge and £4,324.50 costs.