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Gloucestershire Business News

Supermarket giant to stand trial on health and safety charges following death of store worker

Supermarket giants Morrisons are to stand jury trial on health and safety charges following the death of a 27 year old store worker who fell down stairs at a branch in Tewkesbury, during a suspected epileptic seizure.

Matt Gunn died 12 days after the fall at the Morrisons store in Ashchurch road, Tewkesbury, on 25th September 2014. He had worked at the supermarket for 10 years.

Five years ago a Gloucester inquest jury found that Matt's death was an accidental - but said Morrisons may have contributed to it by missing opportunities to protect him.

Now Morrisons, based in Bradford, has been charged with six Health and Safety Work act offences as well as one offence of breaching the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurences Regulations.

The firm denied all seven charges at a hearing at Cheltenham Magistrates Court and has been committed to stand trial at Gloucester crown court later this year. The first listing of the case at the crown court has been set down for 23rd April.

The inquest in 2015 heard that Matt was found at the foot of the stairs by two colleagues Lesley Dixon and Julie Blakeley.

He was taken by Air Ambulance to Southmead Hospital, Bristol, where he was found to have skull fractures, other multiple fractures and neurological injuries.

Following surgery he showed no neurological improvement and died 12 days later.

A post mortem report said he died of a traumatic head injury. It was not possible to determine if an epileptic seizure caused the fall - but it was possible.

Matt had been diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 4 and lived with it for his entire working life.

An epileptic seizure while working in the Morrisons canteen led to a decision in 2005 to move him to the grocery department. Due to Matt's epilepsy, adjustments were made by Morrisons to ensure he had a safe working environment.

A week before his fatal fall, Matt had suffered an epileptic seizure in the warehouse. His mother was called to take him home but after going upstairs to pick up some of his belongings with a colleague, Sarah Roberts, he suffered what was described as an 'absence'.

The inquest jury's conclusion was "An absence of a structured process and ownership in relationship to managing a person with epilepsy, a lack of communication, no personal risk assessment or the monitoring thereof, and insufficient reporting all led to missed opportunities which may have contributed to Matt's Death."

The charges now facing Morrisons are:

*Failing to notify Tewkesbury borough council of Matt's death in the approved manner under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrence Regulations; *Failing to provide an HSE inspector with any survey reports on the staircase in the store; *Failing to provide contact details for a named individual relevant to the inquiry; *Failing to provide details of any policy or procedure in relation to employees with epilepsy; *Failing to review any risk assessment for Matt Gunn; *Failing to make a suitable and sufficient risk assessment for his health, safety and welfare; and *Failing to ensure the safety and absence of risk of employees including Matt.

Through their lawyers, the company pleaded not guilty to all charges at the magistrates court hearing on Feb 26th.

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