Safe system or working where claimant is both employee and director

The claimant fell from a ladder and was badly injured. The action was settled by the occupiers of the building who then claimed a contribution from the claimant’s employers who had been sub-contracted to fit cabling for a fire alarm system. The claimant was the employer’s technical director. He stepped from a roof onto an unsecured ladder.

The occupiers submitted that the employers should have attended the premises to carry out an induction exercise on a risk assessment, that a fellow employee should have footed the ladder, that the claimant should have been wearing a hard hat, and that the employer’s own safety book should not have been ignored. However, the court held that the claimant was entitled to be on the premises, security was expecting him and he had been let in: the fellow employee had only gone there that day, did not know the job and was told to stay where he was as the claimant was coming down the ladder; there was no evidence that a hard hat would have stayed on the claimant’s head or that it would have lessened the injuries; and the claimant’s fault in failing to ensure that the ladder was tied or footed was co-extensive with that of his employers. It would be wrong and completely artificial to hold the employers liable. Between the claimant and his employers the claimant was 90 per cent to blame.

Pettigrew -v- Tilbury Douglas Construction Ltd 2004.

Failing to treat snow and ice

The claimant slipped and fell on an icy pavement before the council gritted the pavement later that day. He claimed that the area was steep, in the shade and reasonably busy in the morning with pedestrians, that after the council was put on notice two days earlier that the roads and footways were liable to be icy it should not have continued the stand down of the gritting depots; that the previous day the council received a police request for the spreading of salt and grit at an area less than 300 yards from where the claimant fell; and that the council should have spread salt and grit on the area no later than that date.

The court took a robust view and dismissed the claim. There was no connection between the decision to stand down the depots and the absence of grit on the morning of the accident. The council was entitled to give some areas priority over other areas, and it could not be inferred from the police request that the council was negligent in failing immediately to grit areas within about 300 yards of the scene of the accident.

Jackson -v- City of Edinburgh Council 2004.