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Case Study: Supermarket’s Safety Slip Up!

In the midst of WorkSafe’s supermarket WHS crackdown, they have released a number of case studies to highlight just what can happen when business owners let safety standards slip.

For one supermarket in the Perth metropolitan area, it was something as simple as using plastic milk crates as a step, which cost one business thousands of dollars in fines and court costs.

Where did they go wrong?

It all started because of a ladder.

On her first shift, a night filler was given a ladder by the checkout supervisor to use to reach the stock stored on the higher shelves. She noticed that some of the other fillers weren’t also using ladders but instead were standing on three milk crates stacked together.

A few days later, she was stacking the higher shelves again, but this time she was given the stack of milk crates by the night fill manager to use as a ladder. She didn’t complain, as she had seen the other employees using the crates, but that was when disaster struck.

Later that evening, she lost her balance when one of the crates cracked below her, causing her to lose her balance. She fell off the stack of crates and hit the ground hard, causing her lose consciousness for a few seconds. On top of this she also sustained bruising to her back, sprained her left knee and fractured a rib.

What were the consequences?

The supermarket had failed, so far as was practicable, to provide and maintain a safe working environment. Its employees were exposed to hazards and by that failure, one suffered serious harm.

The case was taken to the Magistrates Court of Western Australia, and the judge ruled that the supermarket was in breach of sections 19(1) and 19(2) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984. This meant the business was fined $3,500 and charged court costs.

How can YOU improve supermarket workplace safety?

In order to be prepared for the WorkSafe supermarket inspections, you need to ensure that all aspects of your workplace health and safety are being constantly monitored and updated. The best way to do this is to have a designated employee, a safety representative, who controls the safety of all systems and procedures within your business.

You don’t have to hire an entire new employee to fill this role, you can easily train existing employees to be safety representatives, in a dual capacity with their current roles. To learn more about the different work health and safety course options click here.

For more information about the inspection program, WorkSafe have also released an OSH in supermarkets and grocery store’s guide to help business owners prepare and improve their workplace health and safety. Click here to view and download the guide.

Source: Department of Commerce, Government of Western Australia.