The claimant was a council gardener who was using a ride-on mower to cut the grass in a cemetery when the front wheel of the mower went over a kerbed edging of a grave that had not been topped up, causing the mower to jolt to one side and the claimant to aggravate a pre-existing shoulder injury.

The claimant said the area in which he was cutting seemed to be an “aisle” in the cemetery that gravestones backed onto. He said the grass in the cemetery was approximately 18 inches long.

We alleged a breach of Regulation 17 of the Workplace Regs regarding safe traffic routes and also Regulation 5 of the Workplace Regs, the catch-all “strict” obligation with regard to maintenance, systems and devices. We also pleaded breaches of the Occupiers’ Liability Act.

The Judge did not believe the area where the claimant was cutting the grass could be classed as a traffic route. However, he found for us under Regulation 5 in that the grass was sufficiently long to create an unsafe place of work and therefore the cemetery was not maintained in good working order and he also found for us under the Occupiers’ Liability Act.

Liverpool CC, 11 November 2008,

Near an old people’s social centre

This trip was on a footpath leading from a social centre for the elderly to the council car park at the rear of the premises.

The claimant was 79 years old at the time of the accident. The tripping hazard was estimated between two thirds of an inch and maybe as much as an inch. There were no photos.

The Judge found that the uplift on the paving stone rendered the premises “not reasonably safe”.

He said that the particular users of the premises placed a “higher” standard of what was reasonably safe in the circumstances as the users were vulnerable persons.

He found that the claimant’s submission that a daily walking inspection was reasonable in light of the users of the premises was correct. At the time of the accident, the manager of the premises was on holiday and there was no system for ensuring that someone else performed her checks.

Therefore it was established that the council had failed to take reasonable steps to take reasonable care for the claimant.

Kingston upon Thames CC, 24 October 2008