Woolworths fined following an accident

In 2018 a supermarket worker was moving a two metre high bakery trolley which had been loaded with bread products from the bakery of the supermarket. While manoeuvring the trolley a wheel or wheels of the trolley jammed, causing the trolley to fall on to the worker. The worker sustained multiple injuries including a fractured back. The worker required surgery and spent 6 months off work.

Following the incident, it was found that the solid tyres on all four wheels of the trolley had signs of deterioration. All of the tyre treads had separated from the rim of the wheel. The movement of the trolley was compromised by the separation of the tyres from the rim of the wheels, and by a loose strip of rubber hanging off the side of the tread. Moreover, the rim had cut into the tread and thus widened it, with the prospect that the rim may have wedged itself between the wheel rim and the side plate, stopping rotation of the wheel. The wheels and tyres of the trolley were found to be old, degraded, and poorly maintained. The fully loaded trolley was also found to be top heavy and could easily topple if the wheels became jammed.

Woolworths had inspection and maintenance systems in place for other equipment but there was no system of inspection and maintenance in relation to the bakery trolleys.

The defendant breached its duty by failing to provide any system for the inspection and maintenance of the bakery trolleys.

The SAET convicted Woolworths and imposed a fine of $72,000 (after 40% discount for early guilty plea) plus legal fees.

Source: Safework SA

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