Central London County Court
The claimant obtained judgment on liability for personal injury caused by the employer's breach of its statutory duty to keep the workplace clean under the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 reg.9.
The claimant employee, a bus cleaner, (L) claimed damages for personal injury against the respondent employer, a bus company (S).
L's foot had turned while stepping down from a bus she was cleaning and a metal splinter left on the floor of S's engineering depot had pierced the side of her safety boot. L initially treated the wound herself at home, but later developed necrotising fasciitis which led to emergency surgery and subsequent amputation.
L contended that S had been in breach of its statutory duties by failing to (1) have a suitable risk assessment; (2) keep the workplace clean; and (3) keep the floors and walkways clear.
HELD: (1) S's risk assessment provided for regular cleaning of floor areas but contained no methodology for doing so. In practice, the mechanism was for the yardman to patrol the area once per day and the area to be cleaned once per week. The yardman had been on holiday for several days during which he had no replacement (see para.28 of judgment). (2) There was rubbish on the floor which should have been cleared away and was not. The floor was not kept "sufficiently clean" for the purposes of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 reg.9(1) and that failure was causative of L's injury. The words "sufficiently clean" were to be interpreted in a health and safety context in the same way as the word "suitable" in reg.12(1), Palmer v Marks and Spencer Plc  EWCA Civ 1528 followed. In addition, S had failed to prevent waste materials from accumulating in the workplace in breach of reg.9(3), Love v North Lanarkshire Council 2007 G.W.D. 7-123 considered (paras 29-32). (3) There was insufficient evidence to establish that the metal was the cause of L slipping, tripping, or falling for the purposes of reg.12(3), but L had been injured using a pedestrian throughway and there had been a breach of S's reg.17(1) duty to keep it clear. There had also been a breach of the common law duty of care in relation to the above breaches. The continuous nature of the engineering works and the number of engineers working had given rise to a reasonably foreseeable cause of injury from materials left around the pits (paras 33-37).
Judgment for claimant
Counsel for the claimant: Michael Nicholson.
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