In a public place such as a pub, operators and land owners would do well to remember their responsibility for the safety of patrons and employees. However, these standards need to improve, as stated in a case recently heard in NSW.
At a hotel in 2013, a worker at the pub fell down an open trapdoor while collecting stock from shelves located above the open void. The trapdoor was open as another employee was in the cellar retrieving further stock.
As a result of the 2.4 metre fall, the worker received serious injuries to both heels and needed considerable surgery and rehabilitation.
Could this accident been avoided?
After SafeWork NSW (formerly WorkCover NSW) investigated the incident, the authority concluded that the employer could have done more to avoid the trapdoor hazard. In fact, there were no barriers or warning signs to warn employees of this danger.
Under section 19(1) the Work Health and Safety Act (NSW) 2011, the employer was convicted of not ensuring safety around the trapdoor environment.
Fined $150,000 over the incident, the business has already made changes to the workplace to avoid a similar accident in the future. This includes a new staircase entrance to the staircase which features anti-slip treads, high visibility edges, additional lighting and installed key access.
Executive Director of SafeWork NSW Peter Dunphy explains that this shows how easy it is to ensure a safe environment.
"The incident could have been easily prevented had they installed barriers or installed an alternative access to the cellar," he said.
"This decision sends a strong message to the hotel industry of the need to have effective safe work systems in place to prevent injuries to workers."
Pub slips and falls
The Australian hospitality industry is growing with Publocation stating that there are more than 2,000 pubs and bars in NSW. Across the entire country, there are over 6,000 of these establishments in total.
With the number of pubs increasing and patronage also improving, business owners need to be thinking about safe practices – whether this in regard to their employees by implementing safe work systems or ensuring their customers don't trip and fall.
For example, if a patron slips on a wet floor that isn't signposted, they could be eligible for public liability compensation depending on if the business owner neglected their duty of care.
If you are an employee injured at work or a customer hurt at a bar, pub or restaurant, contact the team at Gerard Malouf Partners to investigate your chance of compensation.