The great onion debate: Slips, trips and… vegetables?

Monday 21 January 2019
Shyla Sivanas

Purchasing a sausage at Bunnings is a long held tradition for many Australian families.  In a bold move by the popular hardware chain late last year, a new safety directive sees onions placed “underneath” sausages to reduce the risk of creating a slipping hazard!

This decision has sparked controversy nationwide with many angry Australians saying that organisations are becoming overly cautious and that “The Bunnings Rule” changes the face of the sausage sizzle.

The instigator

Bunnings’ decision came as a result of a farmer from Queensland injuring his hip after slipping on an onion near a sausage sizzle.

Victorian law provides that if a retailer is found to be at fault for a slipping injury, the injured person can make a claim for their out-of-pocket medical expenses and loss of earnings if they are unable to work.

The law also provides that, people left with a serious and permanent injury can claim compensation for pain and suffering. 

The verdict: Tastes aside; from the legal perspective 

Whilst Bunning’s decision may seem extreme to the average Australian, a greasy onion could certainly make a surface slippery and lead to an unfortunate accident.

An injury from a fall can be very serious especially if the individual is elderly or has had a prior injury. Ankle fractures, hip fractures, back injuries and even brain injuries are unfortunately common consequences of slips such as these.

The circumstances of how your injury occurred has to be considered as well. Bunnings locations have hard concrete floors and some stores may have sharp tools in the proximity of the BBQ area.

It may be a different story if the sausage sizzle was in a grassy or sandy area where the risk of a slip is reduced.

Retailers have a duty to ensure that risks to customers are minimised, and Bunnings should be applauded for taking a step in the right direction and learning from past mistakes, even if ‘at first blush’ it seems extreme.

However, despite this directive, the most important thing that retailers need to remember is to stay vigilant, and prevent accidents by having a clear system for routine inspection and cleaning throughout the day.

 

These types of accidents are not uncommon, and we often speak to people who have been injured from slips due to food lying on the floor in a shopping centre, coffee spills and wet floors.  All jokes aside, the message to retailers is clear – if there is a way to minimise the risk of an injury occurring, it should be implemented.

If you or someone you know has suffered an injury in a public place, we encourage you to contact one of our expert injury lawyers for free advice on (03) 9321 9988.

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