Co-op has been fined £400,000.00 after a “devoted customer” who slipped on water leaking from a display subsequently died.

A court heard that the water leaked from a faulty sandwich chiller but customers had not been prevented from entering the area at the branch in Truro, Cornwall.

Staff had mopped up the water and engineers had also been called out the day before the accident, but the water continued to leak. The leaking chiller had not been reported or temporarily marked as not in use on the day of the accident.

The customer fell in July 2015 and sadly died 2 days later.

The supermarket giant admitted failing to protect customers under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was also ordered to pay £50,000 court costs.

Whilst Co-op pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity (to a Health and Safety offence of failing to protect customers), Judge Simon Carr said: ‘What happened was easily avoidable. It was a problem that would’ve been identifiable by anybody present and working in the store. The company tried to address the problem but did so inadequately.

Specialist pads were not in use when they should have been, the chiller was not turned out or put out of use, as it should have been and the was not closed off or guarded by a member of staff.

Instead, staff cleaned the leak on an ad hoc basis, which was clearly unacceptable in the circumstances.

The Co-op have acknowledged the event by commenting that ‘The health and safety of our customers is always of paramount concern. We accept things went wrong and have acted on the lessons learnt from this tragic death.’

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