Employer not occupier to blame after security guard injured at work

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Fall Down StairsA security company which attempted to blame another firm for an employee's accident in freezing and unsafe conditions has agreed to pay almost £3000 compensation.

Our client was employed by the firm to look after a site on which building work was underway prior to being sold. As well as general security tasks, one of his duties was to attend to the site's main gates in order to allow contractors' access.

At just after 7.30am on 5 January 2010, a day notable for its wintry conditions, he left his office to let in some contractors. However, as he descended the steps outside his office, he slipped on ungritted ice and fell. The impact of his fall caused damage to the soft tissue in his lower back.

Despite the freezing weather, no grit had been made available for the area in which our client worked. And although the incident was reported to the site's security manager and the matter entered into the accident book, our client's problems were compounded by not having been provided with safety boots, leaving him at still more risk of sustaining an injury at work.

Responsibility for allowing such an accident appeared straightforward and ought to have been resolved quickly. However, our client's employer, ISS Pegasus Security, claimed that liability lay with the site's occupiers: a firm not only in liquidation, but whose head office had been located in the Isle of Man and therefore beyond the reach of UK law.

ISS further insisted that our client's medical records had not been fully completed, as such presenting no evidence that he had even been present.

In due course court proceedings were issued. Part of ISS's defence lay in its assertion that security checks of the site contractually should not take place in inclement weather. However, no guidance had been given on what should happen if someone needed access in such conditions.

The alleged failure to consider this issue demonstrated that the company's risk assessment measures were flawed, while failure to provide grit or alternative measures to ensure safe passage was provenly a clear breach of its duties as an employer.

In many ways, the fact that ISS blamed others in its defence forced the company's hand. An application to re-instate the beleaguered occupying firm might have become necessary to facilitate court proceedings, a costly process which undoubtedly would have been passed on to ISS had we won the case for our client.

After negotiations, settlement was agreed on a WP Basis with our client's employers for £2950. This equated to an approximate 60/40% split on liability, taking into account causation and litigation risks.


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