Woolworths Group has been successfully prosecuted by SafeWork SA over an incident in 2018 involving a bakery trolley that injured a worker.
The worker was moving a two-metre high trolley loaded with baked goods from the supermarket bakery department. As the worker moved backwards with the trolley, one of the wheels jammed, causing the worker to fall back, and the trolley fell on top of her. She sustained a broken sternum, lumbar vertebrae and tibia, along with various soft tissue injuries.
SafeWork SA’s investigation found that the trolley wheels showed signs of deterioration, compromising the movement, and the trolley being top-heavy. It required very little force to push it over.
It was found that Woolworths did not have a system in place for inspecting and maintaining the trolleys, despite other equipment having appropriate procedures.
Woolworths pleaded guilty for breaches of their WHS duties in the South Australian Employment Tribunal. The company was fined $120,000 before a 40% discount was taken into account for an early guilty plea.
Executive Director of SafeWork SA, Martyn Campbell, explained that employers are required to provide a safe working environment for employees, including the equipment that is required for that 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.
Deputy President Magistrate Cole noted 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”.