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The Folly Of Supermarket Trolleys Blocking Floor Space.

17th December 2013
Keeping the shelves stocked in a supermarket tends to be a non-stop activity aimed at ensuring customers can always purchase goods they need at any time.

The problem is that aisles can become hazardous to customers trying to negotiate their trolleys around assistant shelf-stackers and their large trolleys, which block floor space already occupied by large discount bins every few feet. At certain periods of the day, such as lunchtime or early evening, a busy store full of customers can be an accident waiting to happen.

One example of a supermarket trolley incident, which is not uncommon in accident claims cases, was heard in court at the end of 2012. A female shopper had tripped over a low flatbed trolley, which had been left unattended at a Morrison supermarket in Devon, incurring serious injury to her shoulders and arms. After three months in hospital and two years recovery one arm is now shorter than the other.

At the court hearing, the Judge ruled that “Morrisons was 80 per cent liable for the accident” and added that leaving it (the trolley) in the middle of an aisle did create a “foreseeable risk of injury”. Consequently, injury compensation of £44,000 was awarded to the claimant and a legal bill to Morrisons of nearly £200,000.

It has been estimated that around 14,000 people are affected by supermarket incidents involving collapsing in-store shelving alone with injury claims being paid out for severe injuries sustained to customers heads, faces, eyes and upper limbs.

It may not come as too much of a surprise to hear that year after year, around forty per cent of all accidents in the workplace involve slips, trips or falls, which would likely also include those  taking place in a supermarket. Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, employers have a duty to ensure their employees and anyone else who could be affected by their work - such as store customers - are kept safe from harm and that their health is not affected.

So while there have been improvements in a quicker response to the placing of ‘wet floor’ signage when a fridge leaks or bottles / cartons fall and spill their contents, the risk of injury caused by trolleys blocking actual aisle space continue not to be satisfactorily resolved.