Hugo Boss £1.2 million fine a timely reminder of health & safety penalties

October 2015

Live events sector


Designer clothing company Hugo Boss has been fined £1.2m after the death of a young boy who was crushed by a mirror at its Bicester Village store. Austen Harrison, four, suffered fatal head injuries at the Oxfordshire outlet store in June 2013.
Austen, from Crawley, West Sussex, had been playing with the steel-framed fitting-room mirror, described as being balanced upright like a “domino piece”, when it toppled on to him while his father tried on a suit. The ‘pop up’ store had been quickly converted from its previous user to house the Hugo Boss outlet. Monthly health and safety checks were not undertaken.
Oxford Crown Court heard the 2,1 metre high 19 stone mirror had “negligently been left free-standing without any fixings”. An inquest at Oxford Coroners’s Court had earlier found that the mirror should have been fixed to a reinforced wall.  The Company had previously admitted offences under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Judge Peter Ross said  “it would have been obvious to the untrained eye” that the mirror posed a risk, and that “it was nothing short of a miracle” that the mirror had not fallen before.  Hugo Boss acknowledged that “Austen’s death was wholly avoidable”. Coroner Darren Salter  had earlier described the incident as “an accident waiting to happen”
Councillor Tony Ilott of Cherwell District Council, which mounted the prosecution, described the death as “an incredibly tragic situation”. He told the BBC: “All companies have a legal responsibility to staff and customers to ensure every relevant health and safety requirement is met to the necessary standards. It is not optional, nor is it negotiable.
The family of 16 year ol apprentice carpenter, Alfie Perrin, who fell to his death  from unguarded scaffolding said they could ‘finlly grieve in peace’ after the firm he worked for, Roof Top Rooms, was fined £325,000 with £15,000 costs  His boss Andrew Voy, 35, was charged with manslaughter through negligence after telling Mr Perrin to throw bags of rubbish from the top of the scaffolding into a skip in the street below without a harness, chute or pulley system – a unsafe system known as “rubbish bombing”. He was cleared of those charges at a separate hearing at Snaresbrook Crown Court. At the later trial, Roof Top Rooms pleaded guilty to failure to discharge a duty imposed by the Health and Safety at Work Act. Judge Martyn Zeidman criticised the loft conversion company saying “if the rules had been followed Alfie Perrin would not have been killed” and that the site was “an accident waiting to happen”. The judge said Alfie’s death has led to safety procedures being put in place that will protect other young people.

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