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Most slips and trips in supermarkets often just result in a bruising to the ego and the supermarket offers flowers or extra reward points. However, some accidents can cause serious injury.
By law under the Occupiers Liability Act 1957 supermarkets owe a duty to take reasonable steps to ensure visitors to their store are reasonably safe.
This does not mean that supermarkets can be expected to avoid all accidents, but it does mean they have to take reasonable steps to prevent accidents from happening. Some accidents are just that; accidents which cannot be avoided and for which there is no liability.
Other accidents are foreseeable and avoidable. It is entirely predictable that if customers pick up unsecured items like grapes, they can easily end up on the floor, causing a slipping hazard. Therefore, many supermarkets now ensure such loose produce is packaged more securely, to prevent spillages. A failure to do so could be considered negligent.
Unfortunately, many accidents in supermarkets are caused by debris dropped by other customers. It would be impossible for a supermarket to prevent all such tripping/slipping accidents. However, they must take reasonable steps. The claimant would need to show the supermarket had failed to institute a reasonable system of inspection or failed to carry out any cleaning required following inspections.
Accidents in supermarkets are not restricted to customers and we have acted for members of staff who have been injured whilst lifting heavy boxes without appropriate lifting equipment or from tripping over objects left unsuitably in the aisles by their colleagues.