Coles supermarkets have been fined $170,000 and ordered to pay WorkCover’s legal costs after a worker fell through a ceiling at their Manly store in 2007 and received injuries.
On 29 August 2007 the worker climbed over a handrail to access promotional material being stored on a suspended plasterboard ceiling.
The plasterboard collapsed and she fell more than two metres to the floor below. The employee was taken to hospital and treated for lacerations to her head, whiplash and bruising.
A WorkCover investigation found the company knew it was dangerous to use the roof cavity for storage and had built a railing and posted a warning sign.
Despite this, management failed to undertake a risk assessment on the ability of the plasterboard to withstand any weight, according to WorkCover. They failed to adequately instruct their staff not to access the area or use it for storage.
Coles Supermarkets Australia pleaded guilty, and was convicted and fined $170,000 and required to pay WorkCover’s legal costs.
WorkCover’s general manager of work health and safety division, John Watson, said there were a number of simple steps which could have prevented this fall from happening.
“This particular area should never have been allowed to be used to store merchandise and Coles management should have been more vigilant," Watson said.
“While store management knew the area was not safe, the area was still used for storage and there was no proper information or training given to staff to warn of the risk.
"It is critically important that these types of hazards are identified at the workplace design stage and all reasonable and practicable steps be taken to eliminate the risk of work related injury or illness."