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Paul Carvis

Panel Personal Injury Solicitor

Protecting office staff and shop workers working at height

Although commonly believed to mean working on ladders and scaffolding at over a storey above ground level, "working at height" can include accessing places that are too difficult to reach without assistance in a shop or office environment.

To reduce the risk of injury, working at height should be seen as a last resort. If a task can be accomplished without leaving the ground then it should be done so.

Where working at height is unavoidable, a thorough risk assessment should be carried out, even though the task may seem minor (such as changing a light bulb).

The Work at Height Regulations 2005 cite that any tasks involving working at height must ensure that:

  • Work is properly planned and organised
  • Jobs are completed by competent members of staff
  • Equipment needed to undertake jobs at height is inspected and maintained

Falling off tables and chairs

If an employer requests that an employee quickly stands on a chair or stool in order to access something at a higher level then he would clearly be in breach of this legislation.

In addition, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) requires equipment provided for use at work to be suitable and safe for the intended use.

What is work equipment?

The scope of what constitutes work equipment is very wide - any machinery, appliance, apparatus, tool or installation for use at work (whether exclusively or not). It includes equipment which employees provide for their own use at work.

The use of work equipment is also very widely interpreted and may mean any activity involving work equipment. This includes starting, stopping, programming, setting, transporting, repairing, modifying, maintaining, servicing and cleaning.

However, although chairs or stools fall into the category of work equipment, they are for sitting on and not designed to be stable when stepped on and used to access height.  Therefore where a task such as changing a light bulb may be included in an activity such as maintaining or repairing, the work equipment used in this scenario is not suitable for its purpose.

Proper equipment, such as ladders or a standing stool, should be provided by an employer and employees should be trained in their use.

Following instructions

Anyone who is instructed to use a sitting chair or stool to access somewhere at height and falls as a consequence may have a claim for personal injury compensation.

Contributory negligence

An employee who has been trained or made aware of the risks of using chairs or stools in this manner, but chooses to ignore the risk, may face difficulties in bringing a claim if he is injured.

It may still be possible to make a claim if a manager has told a trained employee, for example, to climb on a chair to reach a high shelf. The doctrine of contributory negligence may apply, meaning that while the employee can still make a claim for their injury, the compensation they receive may be reduced recognising the degree to which the employee is responsible for their own injury.

Your solicitor will be able to give more detail this - call Quittance on 0800 612 7456 to discuss your case. 

No Win, No Fee work fall injury claims

No Win, No Fee injury claims properly start after the Claimant signs up to a Conditional Fee Agreement, also known as a "CFA", with their lawyer.

Your Conditional Fee Agreement is essentially the contract between your lawyer and you. It sets out the service provided by the lawyer as well as a percentage success fee that will be deducted from the compensation award after the claim is won.

By selecting a Quittance solicitor, you have complete peace of mind with the knowledge that that there will be nothing to pay if the case is unsuccessful.

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