Injury at work means £3K damages for roofer – but was employer or subcontractor liable?

Dated:

Simpson Millar has secured £3,000 compensation from 1 of 2 possible defendants for a roofer's injury at work.

Back Injury Slipped Disc

In October 2011, our client was working for a firm subcontracted by his employer on a school building project in Bradford.

As the roofer's task that day was one of waterproofing, a pot used to contain molten bitumen had to be lifted to the roof.

At this point the empty pot, which had an unladen weight of around 200kg, was meant to be carried by a forklift truck to the roof, where our client and 2 colleagues were working.

A risk assessment undertaken by the subcontractor had already determined this operation to be safe. However, since the truck could not readily be manoeuvred between the 2 buildings, the subcontractor told 2 joiners to lift the pot to the roof and asked our client and 2 colleagues to help.

To complete the task a rope and wheeler were used: a method normally reserved for much lighter 45kg pots.

The roofer went to the top of the scaffold with a co-worker, with 3 men below. But as our client reached over the top and pulled the pot, the men below released some of the weight and he was injured.

Our client continued the rest of his shift, but did no work during this time, instead remaining in a van onsite. When he got home he went on to hospital, where his injury was confirmed as a slipped disc.

On behalf of the injured man, we directed a claim against both his employer and the company which had subcontracted that firm. Our allegation was based on breaches of statutory duties in that the defendant had failed to comply with its general duty as an employer to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees.

It had failed to make a suitable assessment of risk, to provide adequate health and safety training and to avoid our client undertaking manual handling operations which involved risk of injury. The defendant had also not ensured that our client received proper training in how to properly handle loads and the risks of incorrect manual handling.

In due course it was our client's employer, rather than the sub-contractor, which admitted liability. Although settlement was briefly delayed by allegations of contributory negligence raised against the roofer, compensation of £3,000 was finally agreed.




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