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Co-op fined £400,000 for wet floor slip death

BY Lee Craig
Health & Safety
BG Orange

The Co-op has been fined £400,000 over the death of a man who slipped on water leaking from a faulty sandwich chiller. Stanley May, 74, died two days after hitting his head on the floor in the Truro branch of the supermarket in July 2015.

Truro Crown Court heard the chiller had been faulty for 44 hours but customers could still enter the wet area. Engineers had tried to fix the chiller two days earlier, but it had continued to leak on to the vinyl floor.  A yellow ‘wet floor’ sign had been used, but the affected area extended beyond it. Judge Simon Carr said what happened was “so easily avoidable”, adding: “The company tried to address the problem but did so inadequately.”

The defence read a statement from Christopher Whitfield, retail and logistics director at the Co-operative Group, in which he said: “He (Mr May) should have been kept safe while walking in our store. It is a matter of utmost regret that he was not.”

The Co-op previously pleaded guilty to a health and safety offence of failing to protect customers. The court awarded £50,000 in costs to Cornwall Council, which brought the prosecution.

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