Compensation for trip that was entirely claimant’s fault
Immediately before he tripped in a factory, the claimant was carrying a cup of tea in his hand and was talking to a colleague. The claimant accepted that he tripped through his own fault.
It was the claimant's case that his right hand was injured on the base plate of a metal stanchion (there were numerous stanchions throughout the factory which were part of the structure of the building) that was sharp and posed a foreseeable risk of injury.
The Judge was satisfied that the accident happened as the claimant said – he fell due to his own fault but cut his hand on the corner/edge of the base plate which it was accepted was “not as sharp as a knife” but did present a risk. The Judge found that the risk was foreseeable and that there was relatively easy remedial work to reduce the risk.
The Judge concluded that there was a breach of duty but went on to consider contributory negligence. The Judge said it was a difficult case. If the claimant had not fallen, there would have been no accident. However, if the hazard had not been there, the injury would not have been as severe. The Judge assessed contributory negligence at 20 per cent. The claimant was awarded £5,180.
The defendants were Graham & Brown Limited.
Burnley County Court, 29 November 2005, Deputy District Judge Troy.
Lifting a wheelbarrow
The claimant was a road worker for the defendant. He patched up holes in the road. The work involved him and a colleague lifting wheelbarrows containing dead tarmac above shoulder height and tipping their contents onto the back of a flat bed truck. The claimant and his colleague would lift the wheelbarrows together and this involved one holding onto the handles and the other the wheel guard. The claimant and his colleague alternated which side of the barrow they lifted.
The claimant pleaded and won his case on the basis of breach of statutory duty and in common law negligence. The Judge accepted the claimant’s own evidence that a wheelbarrow was not meant to be lifted and felt that this went to the heart of the matter. The Judge felt that the lifting manoeuvre was an awkward one, that the risk of injury increased the higher the barrow was lifted and that lifting a wheelbarrow by the handles and the wheel guard was, ultimately, an unsafe system of work.
There were breaches of the MHO Regs in not having a specific risk assessment for the task – the generic risk assessment disclosed was not good enough.
Farline -v- Scarborough Borough Council, 19 December 2005, York County Court.