Slips, trips and fall safety: Death by slipping on spillage results in significant fine

Published: 8 Jun 2017

The CSC helpline has seen an increase in accidents relating to slips, trips and falls. The impact of accidents have ranged from slight bruising to fractures to life changing injury.

Sometimes the repercussions can be so severe that it results in a loss of life. This was the case when a man slipped on water leaking from a faulty sandwich fridge. Stanley May, 74, died two days after hitting his head on the floor in the Truro branch of the supermarket in July 2015. The Co – Operative Truro was fined £400,000. Truro Crown Court heard the chiller had been faulty for 44 hours but customers could still enter the wet area.

The Co-op previously pleaded guilty to a health and safety offence of failing to protect customers. Engineers had tried to fix the chiller two days earlier, but it had continued to leak onto the vinyl floor.  A yellow ‘wet floor’ sign had been used, but the affected area extended beyond it. This fatality along with many other accidents can easily be avoided if basic fundamentals of health and safety and practical guidance is followed;

Employees must not endanger themselves or others and must use any safety equipment provided (including relevant footwear where necessary).

  • All floor areas must be in good condition and clear of any obstructions and trip hazards.
  • Conduct a risk assessment in which all potential hazards are identified with control measures put in place.
  • Look for uneven/slippery floors, mats and trailing cables and spillages.
  • Ensure that staff are effectively trained in the risk assessment with reference made to clearing of spillages and ice build up on floors and displaying the ‘Wet floor sign’.
  • Regularly review the risk assessment
  • Consideration must also be given to manual handling protocols. Ensure that ladders meet the required British Standards and are used to access high level shelving.
  • Regular safety checks must be conducted on floors and walk ways. Defects must be reported to management immediately with remedial works carried out where required.
  • In external areas to the premises ensure that adequate lighting is provided.
  • Regular de-icing of pavements and external walk ways must be conducted as and when required.
  • Check cleaning and maintenance work does not create hazards.
  • Keep areas clear and views not obscured.