I slipped on some water that had been spilled in the kitchen at work and damaged my spine when I fell. My employer says it is unlikely that a claim for slipping in the kitchen would be successful because the staff leave it in such a mess. Is he right?
The fact that your employer admitted your colleagues always leave the kitchen in a mess practically guarantees the success of an injury claim for slipping in the office kitchen, as an employer has a duty of care to identify potential risks of injury and ensure they are removed wherever possible.
Although there are some circumstances where it would be difficult to claim compensation for slipping in the office kitchen – if for example a colleague had spilled water on the floor seconds before you slipped on it – this does not seem to be one of them.
There are a number of ways in which your employer could have prevented your injury from occurring – better training of staff, the erection of signs requesting and reminding that the kitchen should be kept clean, the laying of a non-slip floor surface and installation of splash guards or edged work surfaces are just some of the methods recommended by the Health and Safety Executive.
If these were not successful, your employer still has plenty of options available – such as appointing a member of staff to be an office kitchen supervisor or employing an office kitchen cleaner depending on the size of the company you work for.
You will need evidence to support your claim for slipping in the office kitchen, and possibly one of your colleagues could take photos of the state of the kitchen and email then to you if you are still unable to work because of your injury. It would also be of value to have written statements from your colleagues to confirm that the images taken were representative of the normal state of the kitchen – even though they may be partially to blame for your accident.
As it appears that your employer may contest your claim for slipping in the office kitchen, it would be in your best interests to speak directly with an office accident claims solicitor at the first practical opportunity. Your accident may have prompted your employer into action and, by the time you return to work, safer kitchen practices may have been introduced.