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Peter Smith represents Daker Ltd - Involving a severe injury to a worker at high street retailer B&M's Merseyside store

R (HSE) v. B & M Limited & Daker Ltd

Liverpool Crown Court: HHJ Trevor-Jones

B&M had been advised by Leep Utilities in June 2018 that its high voltage switchgear at the HQ in Speke, Merseyside needed maintenance work. This work would have resulted in power to its operation being cut, with an obvious impact on its business.

It was decided between B&M, Leep and Aggreko, a world leading power rental and installation company, that 2 generators were needed to provide core functions at B&M whilst the maintenance work was being undertaken.

Meetings between the 3 organisations took place culminating in the maintenance work being fixed for 22nd September 2018.

B&M took the place as Principal Contractor, with Leep and Aggreko taking the lead. Time constraints had already been fixed, but late on the 18th September, Aggreko sub-contracted the electrical connection work to Daker Limited, an electrical micro company.

Daker attended at B&M on the 19th September and informed Aggreko that the job was not straight forward, and that the time scales set unrealistic. Daker was told that Aggreko would put the cables in on Friday 21st September to assist with the time scales.

In furtherance of its work, Daker submitted its RAMS for scrutiny by B&M, Leep and Aggreko, but told by Aggreko that they would not be needed, as Leep would be providing them.

In the result, when Daker arrived on 22nd September, there was a pressurized situation due to the cables having not been put in, and then being sent to a different part of the site.

According to the evidence, it was chaotic, no leadership by B&M, Leep or Aggreko. There was no induction, permit to work, identification of core staff, or a talk about phase sequencing.

Daker’s MD pointed to the work to be done by SR its qualified electrician, warning that one part of the vault was live. Leep was to have isolated before any work took place.

Unfortunately, SR with his spanner got too close to the live and an explosion took place, with SR sustaining significant life changing injuries.

Only B&M and Daker were prosecuted.

The person from B&M was not qualified to act as a Principal Contractor lead, and had told Leep and Aggreko this more than once.

B&M accepted its failings, with Daker admitting that it should not have permitted its employees to be anywhere near the live box until isolated.

Given its VLO status, B&M was fined £1m, with Daker £100 due to its dire financial position, when it had to cease trading in September 2020 by reason of insurance coverage issues, loss of business, increased costs, and employees moving on, together with on-going health issues of the MD.

HSE was represented by Craig Morris; B&M by Mark Watson QC; and Peter Smith of Deans Court Chambers for Daker.

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