The claimant was on a scaffold tower deck. He wanted to go down a hatch that had a ladder but the ladder was flush to the hatch wall and began beneath the level of the deck.

The claimant approached the hatch from the opposite side to where the ladder was attached to the hatch – facing the ladder and on the opposite side of the hatch.

In effect he stepped into the three feet of air where the hatch was open to plant his foot on a ladder rung and to catch his hand on a rail on the other side. Unfortunately, only the toes of his right foot made proper contact with the rung causing it to slip off the rung. The claimant fell heavily and awkwardly part way through the hatch.

The defendant said the safe way to go down was to walk around the hatch and then go reverse fashion, while holding a tower rail on the side. The Judge agreed the tower guard rail, while not designed as a stair rail, was a safe design to that end under Work at Height Regulations.

The Judge agreed that while the risk may seem obvious there had to be specific training here. The claimant was 63 and not familiar with the scaffold design despite 23 years as a scaffolder with a more traditional design.

The claimant should have been given proper training and instruction how to get onto the ladder and the Judge found a breach of duty under Regulation 6 of the Work at Height Regulations.

2 and 3 February 2009, Nottingham CC