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Compensation for Slipping on Ice at Work Awarded to School Janitor

August 27, 2013

A sixty-one year old man has been awarded £30,000 compensation for slipping on ice at work after the injuries he sustained forced him to give up work as a school janitor.

Stephen McKeown from Port Glasgow in Inverclyde sustained his injuries in November 2010 after he had been asked to cover the holiday of the regular janitor at St Francis´ Primary School in Port Glasgow, rather than work at nearby St Stephen´s High School where he usually worked.

Having arrived at St Francis´ Primary School at 7.00am, Stephen began salting the playgrounds and the paths leading to the classrooms by hand as he had done on icy days for the past eighteen year; and, as lessons began at 9.00am, Stephen moved onto other areas of the school that had a lower priority.

During the first break between lessons, he was told by two pupils if a condom that had been discarded on one of the classroom fire escapes and, as he was ascending the steps of the fire escape, he slipped on an icy step and fell – injuring his leg and damaging his back.

As he was unable to continue his job as a janitor due to his injuries, Inverclyde Council – Stephen´s employers – terminated his work contract in November 2011.

Stephen made a compensation claim for slipping on ice at work – a claim which has denied by Inverclyde Council on the grounds that they had a system of work in place for clearing icy paths and steps which – they claimed – Stephen had failed to follow.

Nonetheless, Stephen pursued his claim for compensation for slipping on ice at work and, last week at the Court of Session Outer House, Lord Burns found that Inverclyde Council were in breach of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

Lord Burns found that Inverclyde Council´s safe system of work existed only on paper, and had never been put into practice. Criticising the council for failing to advise Stephen of the safest system of work or tell him that work equipment was available that could have prevented his accident, Lord Burns awarded Stephen £30,000 compensation for slipping on ice at work.