Ambulance figures show there is no let-up for workers at Sports Direct, as retailer's agency quizzed by MPs

Helen Cahill
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General Views of Sports Direct Shops
MPs investigated working conditions at Sports Direct last year (Source: Getty)

MPs will today step up their investigation into working conditions at some of the biggest warehouses in the UK.

Transline Group, the agency which supplies Sports Direct's workers at Shirebrook, will face questions from the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The controversial company is seeking new financial backers to boost its capital, according to a Sky News report last night.

Read more: Asos and Amazon in the spotlight as Sports Direct agency questioned

Transline Group did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.

Last year MPs accused Sports Direct of running its Shirebrook plant like a "Victorian workhouse". Sports Direct says it has since made steps to improve health and safety, appointing a nurse on the site and creating a group to monitor health and safety.

Sports Direct Founder Faces Commons Select Committee Over Working Conditions
Sports Direct's boss Mike Ashley appeared in front of MPs last summer (Source: Getty)

However, a Freedom of Information response seen by City A.M. shows the number of people taken to hospital from Sports Direct's site has reached its highest level for three years. Ambulances were called to the site 26 times in 2016, and 20 of the incidents ended in someone being taken to hospital.

As part of the MPs’ inquiry last year, it was revealed that 110 ambulances were called to Shirebrook between January 2013 and April 2016.

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A spokesman for Sports Direct said: "As a responsible company, we will continue to recommend that an ambulance is called when there is a genuine concern, as we would rather be safe than sorry when it comes to health and safety.

Whilst we have been unable to check the latest data, we note that the volume of calls does not appear to be disproportionate. Indeed, given our huge expansion of the site in recent years the figures actually represent a considerable reduction in the proportion of calls per head.

Documents from the East Midlands Ambulance Service show that, in 2016, Sports Direct workers have been treated for breathing problems, fitting, eye injuries, haemorrhages, chest pains, and other complaints.

Between 2014 in 2016, there were 79 ambulance call-outs to Shirebrook. By comparison, there were 17 ambulance calls to Argos' distribution centre at Magna Park, Lutterworth, over the same period.

Read more: Will Sports Direct ditch some of its top brands?

Unite union will be updating MPs today on the terms and conditions offered to agency workers at Sports Direct.

Alex Flynn, head of campaigns at Unite, said there was "room for improvement" at Sports Direct. "We're quite frustrated regarding some of the progress at Sports Direct," he said. "It raises serious concerns, it gives you an insight into the world of work within that site and if you compare it to other warehouses with similar operations, [they] have far fewer accidents."

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