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Sports Direct to appoint nurse after health and safety review

Nurse and welfare officer will offer advice to staff at retailer’s vast warehouse, where inquiry revealed ‘appalling’ working conditions
Sports Direct workers

Retailer Sports Direct is to appoint a full-time nurse at its vast warehouse in response to concerns about health and safety.

The firm was the subject of a Commons business, innovation and skills (BIS) select committee inquiry over its employment practices.

The committee, which published a report into the company in July, cited appalling working conditions and practices at the retailers shops and at its Shirebrook warehouse complex in Derbyshire.

Serious breaches

It said evidence points to serious health and safety breaches, and repeated ambulance call-outs to the warehouse complex.

A review commissioned by Sports Direct has revealed the company is to hire a full-time nurse and a welfare officer at the Shirebrook site to provide professional advice and reduce the number of ambulance call-outs.

The review into

Retailer Sports Direct is to appoint a full-time nurse at its vast warehouse in response to concerns about health and safety.


Unite union members protest outside Sports Direct’s headquarters over ‘Dickensian’ working conditions. Photo: Alamy

The firm was the subject of a Commons business, innovation and skills (BIS) select committee inquiry over its employment practices.

The committee, which published a report into the company in July, cited ‘appalling working conditions’ and practices at the retailer’s shops and at its Shirebrook warehouse complex in Derbyshire.

‘Serious breaches’

It said evidence points to serious health and safety breaches, and repeated ambulance call-outs to the warehouse complex.

A review commissioned by Sports Direct has revealed the company is to hire a full-time nurse and a welfare officer at the Shirebrook site to provide professional advice and reduce the number of ambulance call-outs.

The review into Sports Direct’s working practices, published this week by lawyers Reynolds Porter Chamberlain, said: ‘The nurse and the welfare officer will be available as points of contact for people who wish to raise potentially delicate issues about their health and wellbeing on a confidential basis.

‘The nurse may also offer professional advice about when an ambulance is or is not required.’

Shirebrook employs more than 4,000 warehouse workers on a site the size of 27 football pitches.

Ambulance call-outs

A freedom of information request made by the union Unite to East Midlands Service found 110 ambulances or paramedic cars were dispatched to the warehouse’s postcode between 1 January 2013 and 19 April 2016.

Fifty cases, including chest pain, breathing problems, convulsions, fitting and strokes, were classified as ‘life-threatening’.

Five calls related to women experiencing difficulties with preganancies, including one who gave birth in the warehouse toilets.

MPs on the BIS committee also heard evidence that a ‘six strikes and you’re out’ policy at the company meant staff could be penalised for taking time off work when ill.

Reviewing policies

In addition to recruiting a nurse, who will work from 8am-4pm, and a welfare officer, Sports Direct has asked the employment agencies it uses to recruit more workers and suspend the six strikes policy.

‘The business has been closely reviewing its policies and procedures in relation to health and safety in light of the various concerns,’ the Reynolds Porter Chamberlain report stated.

‘It wants to ensure a safe place of work for all its staff.’

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