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If there’s one thing you can say about forklift operator John McKie it’s that he’s a stand-up guy.
A UK court last week threw out charges against the Aldi supermarket chain after McKie admitted to being at fault for striking and injuring a co-worker at one of the company’s warehouses.
The incident in question occurred in January 2014 at the Aldi warehouse in Darlington, a city in northeast England. McKie was driving his forklift when he accidentally struck a co-worker, Craig Turnbull, crushing his leg.
The Health and Safety Executive — the UK’s counterpart to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration — originally charged Aldi’s with violating health and safety regulations.
Worker Takes Responsibility for His Actions
But during the criminal trial, McKie testified that he was solely responsible for the accident. McKie told the court that he should not have been driving the truck forwards when he struck Turnbull, according to news reports.
McKie, who was fired by Aldi’s after the incident, told the court that he should not have been driving the truck forwards when he struck Turnbull. He admitted that he failed to follow the company’s protocol, which required drivers to put their vehicles in reverse when a load obscure’s the driver’s vision.
After McKie’s testimony, Aldi’s attorneys made a motion to dismiss all charges against the company on the grounds that there was no case to answer, which the Darlington Magistrate’s Court granted.
Prosecutors Describe a Chaotic Warehouse
Prosecutor Kieran Rainey described Aldi’s warehouse on the Faverdale Industrial Estate as a very large, very busy operation with frenetic, extremely chaotic movement in the aisles. He claimed that the warehouse environment was dangerous by its very nature and that Aldi’s failed to do all it reasonably could to ensure staff safety.
During the trial, prosecutors played a video taken in the warehouse aisle where the incident occurred to show how busy it was with vehicles. While the collision took place off-camera, the video showed a loaded high-reach being driven towards Turnbull just before the crash.
In a statement after the decision, an Aldi spokesman said the company was pleased that the charges were dismissed and that the company takes its health and safety responsibilities very seriously and is committed to protecting its workers.
Aldi’s Originated in Europe
Many people in the US are surprised to learn that the discount grocery chain has stores in the UK. But Aldi’s actually has more than 9,000 stores in 18 countries, including Australia, Denmark, France, Poland, Ireland, Hungary, Switzerland, and Austria.
In fact, the company is headquartered in Germany, where it was founded by brothers Karl and Theo Albrecht in 1946. The name “Aldi” actually is short for “Albrecht Diskont”, or “Albrecht Discount” in English. The formal business name is Aldi Einkauf GmbH & Compagnie, oHG.
The company also owns the Trader Joe’s chain in the US.