A janitor has settled his claim for a workplace slip on ice – due to which he lost his job – after a hearing at Edinburgh´s Court of Sessions.
The janitor in question – sixty-one year old Stephen McKeown from Port Glasgow in Inverclyde – suffered his injury in November 2010 after he had been asked to cover the absence of the permanent janitor from St Francis´ Primary School, rather than work at his regular location at St Stephen´s High School in Port Glasgow.
Arriving at St Francis´ Primary School at 7.00am, Stephen began salting the paths and the playgrounds by hand as he had done on icy days for the past eighteen years he had worked as a janitor. As school started at 9.00am, Stephen moved onto the areas of lower priority but, during the first break between lessons, he was told by two pupils that a condom had been discarded on one of the classroom fire escapes.
As Stephen climbed the fire escape to retrieve the condom, he slipped and fell on ice which had not yet defrosted, and injured his leg and back as he fell against a wall. Unable to continue his job as a janitor due to his injuries, Stephen´s work contract was terminated by Inverclyde Council in November 2011 – following which, Stephen made a claim for a workplace slip on ice against his former employers.
Inverclyde Council denied their liability for Stephen´s injuries and claimed that they were not in breach of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 as Stephen had alleged because they had a system in place for treating the school grounds when they were icy which, the council argued, Stephen had not followed.
Stephen pursued his claim for a workplace slip on ice and, last week at the Court of Session Outer House, Lord Burns found that Inverclyde Council´s safe system of work existed only on paper, and had never been put into practice.
Criticising Inverclyde Council for failing to train Stephen in the safest system of work or advising him of the availability of work equipment that could have prevented his workplace accident from occurring, Lord Burns awarded Stephen £30,000 in settlement of his claim for a workplace slip on ice.