SafeWork SA has successfully prosecuted Woolworths Group Limited following a bakery trolley falling onto a worker causing serious injuries.
In August 2018, a worker was moving a two metre high bakery trolley, which had been loaded with bread products from the supermarket bakery department.
As the worker was walking backwards and manoeuvring the trolley, the trolley wheel jammed, causing the worker to fall backwards and the trolley to fall on to her.
The worker sustained fractures to her sternum, lumbar vertebrae, and tibia, as well as soft tissue injuries.
SafeWork SA identified that the wheels of the trolley showed signs of deterioration which compromised movement and was top-heavy. This resulted in little force enabling it to topple.
Woolworths did not have a system for inspection and maintenance of bakery trolleys, despite having maintenance processes for other equipment.
Woolworths Group Ltd pleaded guilty in the South Australian Employment Tribunal (SAET) for breaches of their duties under section 32 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA).
The SAET convicted Woolworths Group Ltd and imposed a fine of $120,000 before applying a 40% discount for early guilty plea.
SafeWork SA Executive Director, Martyn Campbell said employers have a primary duty to provide a safe working environment to workers, including equipment required in the course of their work.
"No matter what equipment you are using, big or small, all equipment should be regularly inspected and maintained to ensure the health and safety of workers", said Mr Campbell.
In sentencing, Deputy President Magistrate Cole accepted the defendant’s contrition, the support offered to the injured worker, and that the defendant “took immediate action to remove all of the comparable bakery trolleys, and then in a timely manner implemented a system of inspection and maintenance for its bakery trolleys”.