The Penningtons Manches personal injury team recently settled a claim for a client who sustained serious upper limb fractures due to a fall at work. The client was walking across the entrance hall of her place of employment when she slipped and fell heavily on her arm. Although she made a good recovery from her broken arm, she has been left with permanent residual symptoms and pursued a claim primarily to recover her lost earnings and medical expenses.

Investigations into liability were carried out and it transpired that the cleaning fluid used to polish the floor was applied in a much higher dose than recommended, leading to a build-up in residue which created a greasy film across the floor. Other areas of the workplace were found to be in a similar condition and members of staff had previously complained about the slippery surfaces.

A claim was brought against the employer on the grounds that it had failed to comply with the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The floor was part of the workplace and was unsafe. The employer agreed to pay compensation and a settlement was secured.

Philippa Luscombe, partner in the personal injury team, commented: “This was an interesting case in that the employer initially did not accept any failings on its part and argued that the floor was slippery due to the actions of the cleaning contractors. However, an employer’s duty to have regard to the safety of their employees is not delegable so, although the employer could sub-contract out the cleaning, the ultimate responsibility for safety lay with the company. The strength of the case was increased by the fact that, despite employees reporting that other areas of the building had a slippery surface, the employer took no action. It had therefore failed to take sufficient steps to ensure the safety of its employees, including our client.”