JD Sports Fashion has been facing more questions over its warehouse in the Kingsway business park in Rochdale, after The Guardian reported that 140 members of the staff were taken to hospital from the facility in four years. The report came after a Channel 4 News investigation containing allegations that some workers were not paid for time spent on security checks and that the warehouse operates with a “strikes” policy for supposed offenses such as chewing gum or wearing branded gear.
The group said at the time that is was “deeply disappointed and concerned” by the footage but denied the allegations. They were strikingly similar to those around the Sports Direct warehouse in Shirebrook last year, which precipitated a parliamentary investigation and substantial reforms.
JD Sports Fashion said it did not believe that the description accurately reflected the company's culture and requested an independent review of policies and their implementation at the distribution center at the end of last year. The Guardian reported that ambulances were dispatched to the warehouse 166 times in the last four years and that 140 of the incidents required transport to the hospital.
The British newspaper quoted JD Sports Fashion as responding that the group has invested heavily in health and safety at the warehouse, describing it as a high priority. It received four stars for occupational health and safety compliance from the British Safety Council in May 2016.
The spokesperson further pointed out that the number of ambulances called had decreased since 2014, despite the growth in the number of workers, and that the number of calls for ambulances was proportionally very low given the fact that up to 1,500 employees are on site daily – not to mention the fact that not all calls relate to workplace incidents. Among other measures in place, the group employs a full-time health and safety manager and it currently has 60 first-aiders at Kingsway, the sporkesperson continued. This is almost double the recommended number of 32 first-aiders.