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Co-Op fined for chiller leak slip death

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UK: The Co-Op has been fined £400,000 after a customer died having slipped on water leaking from a faulty sandwich chiller.

The sentence handed down today at at Truro Crown Court, followed an investigation by Cornwall Council’s Public Protection officers. The Co-Operative Group Ltd had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to a charge under Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The Co-Op was also ordered to pay costs of £50,000.

In July 2015, Stanley May, aged 74, had slipped in water which had accumulated on the floor of the Co-Op store in Boscawen St, Truro following a leak from the faulty appliance. He hit his head on the floor and died later in hospital from a subdural haematoma.

Water had been intermittently leaking from under a sandwich chiller over a period of almost 44 hours and although mopping had occurred there had been no effective method employed to stop or contain the leak or prevent customers accessing the area. Engineers had been called to repair the chiller the day prior to the accident and it appeared to have been repaired effectively, however, it had continued to leak and on the day in question the leaking chiller had not been reported as a maintenance issue and the only control method was a wet floor sign.

Following the hearing, investigating officer Sarah-Jane Brown from Cornwall Council’s Business Regulatory Support team, said “This case demonstrates the importance of slip risks being adequately controlled. It should serve a warning to the retail industry, and particularly supermarkets, that signage alone is not an adequate control. Proactive measures must be taken to either prevent floors becoming slippery or precluding public access.”

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