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The Co-operative Group has been fined £400k over the death of a 74-year-old man who slipped and fell on a puddle of water at its convenience store in Cornwall.

The court was told that water had been intermittently leaking from a sandwich chiller over a 44-hour period in July 2015. Although staff had mopped up the water, they had not taken any action to stop or contain the leak, nor to prevent customers walking into the area. Engineers had been called to the store the day before the accident happened and were thought to have successfully repaired the chiller. However, water continued to seep out and staff had placed a wet floor sign next to the leak but had failed to report it as a maintenance issue.

Stanley May slipped and fell on the water and hit his head on the floor. He was taken to hospital but later died from a subdural haematoma.

The Co-operative Group had pleaded guilty to a charge under s 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act at an earlier hearing. On 22 May it was fined and ordered to pay costs of £50,000.

After the hearing, investigating officer Sarah-Jane Brown from Cornwall Council, which brought the prosecution, said the case “should serve as a warning to the retail industry, and particularly supermarkets, that signage alone is not an adequate control. Protective measures must be taken to either prevent floors becoming slippery or precluding public access.”

Source – IOSH Magazine

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