Co-op off its milk trolley

Council officers prosecuted a supermarket after a worker was injured moving a trolley with a faulty roll cage.

The court heard managers could have prevented the incident had procedures to stop the use of broken equipment been followed.

Entirely preventable

The trolley was carrying milk cartons and the weight of the load contributed to it toppling over.

But investigators said the incident was ‘entirely preventable’ after finding staff two days before had identified the roll cage was broken.

Investigating officers also found:

  • the store had procedures to prevent the faulty trolley from being used but workers either didn’t know about them or failed to follow them
  • staff had conflicting views about their Health & Safety responsibilities and demonstrated gaps in knowledge. Officers questioned how effective their online training was and who had completed it


The judge commented the company should have been proactive in addressing or redressing the issues before they did.

Southern Co-Operative Ltd pleaded guilty to breaking the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

It was initially fined £500,000 plus costs but the penalty was later reduced to £333,334 to reflect an early guilty plea.

Concerning feature

The council said ‘One concerning feature was the store’s breakdown in its Health & Safety management, their absence of knowledge and the validity of the necessary training’.

The Co-Op acknowledged abuse of their e-learning system was troubling but emphasise they do not condone such practice.