Trip risk warnings ignored! Improvement Notice served! Prosecution followed!

District Judge sets bigger fine for tripping hazards than for food hygiene offences saying that "The safety of employees is imperative." & the conditions were "An accident waiting to happen."

An Environmental Health Officer from South Derbyshire District Council has prosecuted a restaurant proprietor after tripping hazards were found during a routine visit and again on an enforcement re-visit.

A very congested storeroom which is unsuitable for purpose electrical cable laying across a step An initial inspection by a local authority resulted in the service of an Improvement Notice for tripping hazards in a restaurant storage area. The notice was subsequently complied with and the proprietor was given advice at that time about ensuring that the premises were kept free from such hazards. A subsequent visit undertaken by the EHO again revealed tripping hazards. Although no tripping accidents had occurred, the prosecution was taken after the previous advice was apparently ignored.

An electrical cable was seen trailing across a step. A storeroom, which had to be regularly accessed by staff to obtain items such as toilet paper and the highchair provided for customer use, was almost completely obstructed and virtually inaccessible because of the clutter of things being haphazardly stored there.

A prosecution for the tripping hazards was taken alongside various food hygiene offences. The proprietor pleaded guilty to not keeping floors free from articles which may cause a person to trip, contrary to Regulation 12(3) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

The case was heard by a District Judge who said that 'the safety of employees is imperative'. He said the tripping hazards, particularly the trailing cable, were 'an accident waiting to happen'. The proprietor was fined £1000 for this offence, compared to fines of £500 for non-compliance with Food Safety Improvement Notices and £250 for the food hygiene offences, showing the significance that the Judge gave to the tripping hazard. Full costs were also awarded to South Derbyshire District Council.

The problems in the storeroom were sorted out and the trailing cable was re-routed after the visit. The local authority's decision to take the prosecution was influenced by the impact that it would have on other duty holders through raising awareness of simple tripping hazards such as electrical cables and the importance of avoiding them.

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