Costly Slips

A major supermarket chain has been fined £80,000 after an employee slipped on a spillage in the food preparation area of a supermarket. The worker was not seriously injured in the incident. The court found that the supermarket had failed to provide her with anti-slip footwear despite making such equipment available as a matter of policy to all other employees who worked in the food preparation areas.

The supermarket had failed to appreciate that the employee regularly needed to enter those areas, and chose to plead guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. They were fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £40,000.

In another similar case, a food processing company has recently been fined after two slip incidents occurred in two days. The company, who produce and process frozen food, had failed to identify the slip hazards at the entrance to the four industrial refrigeration units on site. One worker slipped on the ice which formed at the door to one of the refrigeration units and sprained his ankle. He reported the incident to his manager but nothing was done to address the problem. Two days later the same employee slipped on ice by the entrance to another refrigeration unit and this time he fractured his ankle.

The investigation found that the entrances to all four refrigeration units were in poor condition, with damaged door seals allowing water vapour to freeze inside and outside the door. The outside ice hazard was compounded by a ledge, which created a high step that needed to be crossed without handrails or other aids in order to enter the freezer. Employees had been reporting the problem for over a year before these incidents, a risk assessment had identified the problem and an inspector had raised the problem with the company during a visit, but the company took no action. The company was fined £7,500 and ordered to pay £1,692 in costs.

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