British Home Stores (BHS) has been fined £15,000 after a catering assistant slipped and fractured her skull in the kitchen of its Metro Centre store in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear .
The company yesterday pleaded guilty to an offence under section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was ordered by Gateshead Magistrates court to pay more than £21,000 in costs.
The accident happened in June 2003 in the wash-up area of the store's cafeteria kitchen after the floor had become wet and contaminated with food.
The court ruled that the slip potential of the ceramic flooring in question was "unacceptably high."
In addition, the prosecution brought evidence that four similar accidents had taken place in the kitchen over the previous 12 months. It claimed that the BHS store had done little to correct what it described as "an obvious slip hazard."
Paul Dowling, head of regulatory services for Gateshead council said: "This was a very serious accident which, as the judge rightly pointed out, was wholly preventable."
A Gateshead Council spokesman said that the shop had now replaced the flooring in the kitchen.
The victim spent a total of 11 days in hospital and it is thought she is unlikely to ever return to work.
She is also likely to make a civil claim for damages.
BHS was unavailable for comment at the time of writing.
by Tom Bill
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