The claimant was a council driver. Her duties involved collecting elderly and disabled clients and transporting them to a day centre. The accident happened at the house of a disabled service user who had to be pushed down a wooden ramp.

Our Client had to turn slightly to the left so the front wheels of the wheelchair were positioned properly at the bottom of the ramp. As she turned the wheelchair, she placed her left foot on the edge of the ramp, which crumbled beneath her and she fell, suffering an injury to her left ankle, left leg and hip.

The ramp did not belong to the defendant. It had been provided years ago by the NHS who had no duty to maintain it. It was a mobile ramp. It had been risk assessed by the defendants.

The Judge found that the ramp was work equipment within the meaning of the Regulations. The claimant used the ramp at work. The defendants, the council, had exercised a considerable degree of control over the ramp. It was plainly not in an efficient state if part of it could crumble.

The council has obtained permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal, or alternatively is considering referring the matter to the European Court of Justice for a clear ruling in relation to the proper scope of the Work Equipment Directive.

Northampton County Court, 13 March 2007

Fire-fighter slips on water from appliance

The claimant was injured as a result of slipping on a leak of water from a pump or tank underneath the fire appliance. The defendant’s case was very simple; there is a lot of water about in the fire-fighting industry.

However the Judge found the defendants liable. The real issue was whether the defendants had taken reasonably practicable steps to remove water once it was on the floor. The Judge found it was a well known and common problem and steps should have been taken to deal with it.

No evidence was given of specific instructions on how to address the problem. All the Judge had heard was vague references to fire-fighters being given general information and training in the context of being told to watch out for water on the floor. There were no specific instructions, they were nowhere near discharging the burden to take all reasonably practicable steps to remove water.

They should have been proactive in dealing with the problem rather than relying on the common sense of the workforce. They were therefore in breach of Regulation 12 of the Workplace Regulations and also negligent at Common Law. There was also no finding of contributory negligence.

Leeds County Court, 9 March 2007