Coles fined $170,000 after worker falls from height: Improper storage space for promotional materials

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 30th April 2012

Australian supermarket chain Coles has been fined AU$170,000 and ordered to pay legal costs after a worker fell through a ceiling at their Manly store in 2007 and received injuries.

On 29 August 2007 the worker is reported to have climbed over a handrail to access promotional material being stored on a suspended plasterboard ceiling.

The plasterboard collapsed and she fell more than two metres to the floor below.

The employee was taken to hospital and treated for lacerations to her head, whiplash and bruising.

A WorkCover investigation found that Coles management “knew it was dangerous to use the roof cavity for storage” and had built a railing and posted a warning sign.

According to WorkCover, Coles management failed to undertake a risk assessment on the ability of the plasterboard to withstand any weight.

WorkCover’s General Manager of Work Health and Safety Division, John Watson, said there were a number of simple steps which could have prevented this fall from happening.

“This business employs more 23,000 people in 238 stores across NSW, so the safety procedures of this company are relevant to a lot of people,” Mr Watson said.

“This particular area should never have been allowed to be used to store merchandise and Coles management should have been more vigilant,” Mr Watson said.