Supermarkets have the worst safety records of any other businesses in the ASX100.
A 2015 Citi report, which tracked the top 100 listed companies in the country, found that supermarkets and their distributors reported the most injuries per hours worked.
Metcash, Woolworths and Wesfarmers all ranked in the top four for lost time injury frequency rates (LTIFR) – a common calculation used to monitor the number of employment hours lost due to accidents. What’s more, these figures don’t include injuries to customers.
Let’s examine some supermarket public liability claims from across Australia and see what factors led to each decision.
1. The grape escape
Earlier this year, a woman pursued at least $35,000 compensation after she slipped on a grape in a Coles store in NSW. She alleged the accident caused her significant lower back and neck injuries.
However, Judge David Russell ruled the supermarket had reasonable processes in place for preventing fallen produce from becoming a slipping hazard.
He estimated the grape had only been on the floor for a maximum of 10 minutes before the accident, adding that staff could not be expected to shadow people around the store to ensure their safety.
Verdict: Defendant wins.
2. High Court flips chip slip decisions
Woolworths was forced to pay compensation after a woman slipped on a greasy chip outside a Big W store in 2003.
The plaintiff, an amputee, fell over and suffered severe spinal injuries when her crutch skidded across the chip. She was initially awarded $580,000 from the District Court, but this was later overturned on appeal.
A final decision from the High Court in 2012 ruled in favour of the woman, reinstating the original verdict. The judge ruled that Woolworths had been negligent in allowing the chip to remain on the floor for longer than 20 minutes.
Verdict: Plaintiff wins, eventually.
3. A step in the wrong direction
Woolworths admitted liability after an employee broke his foot while climbing down a ladder to lock rubbish bins located in the dock area.
The plaintiff’s right foot slipped off the rungs and crashed heavily into the floor, which caused a fracture. The supermarket contested the extent of the man’s injuries, but the District Court of Queensland awarded more than $136,000 in damages.
The payout covered a range of costs, including lost income and superannuation, future expenses, medical care and compounded interest.
Verdict: Plaintiff wins
Are you unsure whether your Queensland public liability claim is worth pursuing? Please get in touch with Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers.