Safety claims firmly denied

WIGAN  30-05-17
Exterior of Poundland warehouse, South Lancs Industrial Estate, off Lockett Road and Three Sisters Road, Bryn, Ashton-in-Makerfield.
WIGAN 30-05-17 Exterior of Poundland warehouse, South Lancs Industrial Estate, off Lockett Road and Three Sisters Road, Bryn, Ashton-in-Makerfield.

A major high street retailer and a leading trade union have firmly rebutted allegations about health and safety breaches at a Wigan depot.

Poundland and Usdaw both spoke out strongly after a whistleblower claimed employees were being put at risk and procedures not followed at the distribution centre in Ashton.

The allegations, which included forklift truck drivers carrying too many pallets and manoeuvring recklessly around staff and fire escapes being blocked, are now being investigated by Wigan Council.

However, the retailer has offered a strongly-worded defence of its culture and practices at the Lockett Road venue, saying many of the claims made about targets putting staff under pressure and not leaving them enough time for breaks are completely untrue.

A Poundland spokesman said: “No member of staff has ever been dismissed from the centre for performance related issues during the Wigan distribution centre’s operation over the past year.

“All forklift truck drivers are trained to high industry standards which is substantiated by recent visits from Wigan Council and the environmental officer who have both praised the efficient and organised operation of the centre.

“Consumption of food and drink being banned is standard across the logistics industry for health and safety reasons. This is enforced for the protection of our colleagues.

“All fire exists are checked on shift handover and periodically on shifts, it is the responsibility of the individual who finds a breach of health and safety to report it to their duty manager.

“Having opened the Wigan distribution centre just under a year ago, Poundland is extremely proud of bringing 298 new jobs to the area.”

The retailer also downplayed fears about an ambulance being recently called, saying an employee suffered a sprained ankle and all parties agreed poor health and safety played no part in the incident.