Lessons to learn from child death in Topshop

Following our role as Expert Witness for the prosecution, in the case of Kaden Reddick’s death, Senior SML Health and Safety Consultant, Steve Pope shares lessons to learn from this fatality at Topshop.

SML was called on to provide Expert Witness services for the Prosecution in this case against Arcadia Group Ltd, Topshop/Topman Ltd and Stoneforce Ltd.

Steve’s opinions in this case meant that various parties were not found responsible for Corporate Manslaughter, but were found in breach of Health and Safety duties; section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act and Construction Design and Management Regulations 2007.

The incident

James Ageros QC opened the prosecution arguing that “Kaden was killed when a heavy object, a queue barrier, toppled over and hit his forehead after he had been holding on to the edge of it. The queue barrier weighed 110kg – around 17 stone in imperial measurements – and was situated close to the till point at the store.”

The court heard that the plinth supporting the barrier, at Topshop in Reading’s Oracle shopping centre, had only been fixed to the floor with two narrow screws. Mr Ageros told the court it was the “completely inappropriate” screws failing that caused the whole barrier to fall.

Lessons to learn

It is acknowledged that shop re-fits are high pressure projects, often with very short timeframes, that can be rushed.

Often, visuals and aesthetics are prioritised over sound engineering. There are numerous cases where insecure store items have fallen on and killed or severely injured children:

Any visual merchandising items which are unstable always have the potential of falling and causing injury.

How to prevent similar incidents
  • Make sure Design Risk Assessments are completed.
  • Suppliers need to know where and how items will be used. As well as the type of floor and walls, to inform the number and type of fixings.
  • Designers must specify the number and type of fixings.
  • Only experienced people should be fitting fixings.

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