Budget retailer Wilko has been ordered to pay more than £2m in fines after one of its employees was left paralysed. Corisande Collins has been left wheelchair bound and with only a one per cent chance of ever walking again after she was crushed by a cage containing pots of paint.
Miss Collins was only 20 when the incident, which left her with severe spinal issues, happened. She had been a part time employee at one of the Wilko stores in Leicester. Wilko Retail Ltd has now entered guilty pleas to four offences brought under the Health and Safety at Work Act. The retailer was ordered to pay a £2.2 million fine and costs of just under £71,000.
Judge Ebraham Mooncey said there had been significant failings leading to the accident. Heavy cages had been moved around, sometimes unnecessarily, he added, and the risk to employees should have been clear. In this case, he said there had been nine failings, including that the cage was top heavy, so it was much more likely to fall over.
Miss Collins had been working at Wilko for almost two years while studying at university when the incident happened. The cage, which had nearly 230 litres of paint in it, toppled onto her when she and a fellow employee removed it from a lift. It fractured the middle of her spine, meaning she immediately lost control of her lower body.
Speaking after the court case, Miss Collins’ family said they believed the level of fine had been appropriate to the gravity of the offence. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the retailer said Wilko had always accepted full responsibility for what had happened. In a statement, they said that the firm would continue to offer support to Miss Collins and her family for as long as they needed it.