Company found Liable for Improper Cleaning Practice

A new High Court case has laid down the law on occupier responsibility when it comes to preventing slip and fall accidents in public places.

The court found Woolworths negligent for not having an adequate cleaning system in place in a busy pedestrian sales area outside one of its stores. In the case, an amputee who walked with crutches fell when she slid on a greasy chip outside a Big W store. Woolworths had exclusive rights under its lease to conduct sales in that area, but it had no system of regular cleaning in place. Instead, staff were only trained in responding to spillages.

For occupiers, building managers and cleaners, the decision establishes a very rough rule of thumb that a cleaning contract should require areas with heavy pedestrian traffic (especially food courts) to be cleaned every 20 minutes. Building managers and owners should be able to provide cleaning rosters, records and policies as evidence if a claim is made against them.

If you are making a claim, you will still need to establish all the necessary facts to succeed, though not specific evidence about when the actual spillage occurred, something almost impossible to prove in most cases.

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