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From: AAP
  • April 27, 2012 11:34AM 

SUPERMARKET giant Coles has been fined $170,000 and ordered to pay legal costs after a worker fell through a ceiling at store in Sydney five years ago.

The worker, then 42, climbed over a handrail to access promotional material stored on a suspended plasterboard ceiling at the company’s Manly store in August 2007.

The plasterboard collapsed and she fell more than two metres, suffering lacerations to the head, whiplash and bruising.

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

But management had not undertaken a risk assessment to determine how much weight the plasterboard could bear, and had failed to adequately instruct staff not to access the area or use it for storage, WorkCover said in a statement on Friday.The Industrial Court of NSW fined the company and ordered it to pay WorkCover’s legal costs.

“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,” WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety general manager John Watson said.

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

“While store management knew the area was not safe, the area was still used for storage and there was no proper information or training given to staff to warn of the risk.”

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