27 July, 2017
The Claimant, an employee of a sub-contractor, alleged that he sustained injury whilst working on a building site where the Defendant was the Principal Contractor. He claimed that he had been instructed to work on a brick garage by the Defendant's site manager who had apparently confirmed that the plot was safe. The Claimant alleged that when he arrived at the building plot, a scaffold had been put up and a ladder was attached to the platform. As the Claimant was working on the scaffold, carrying breeze blocks, he stepped onto one of the scaffolding boards which rocked, causing him to fall sustaining injury. He alleged that the Defendant was negligent and/or in breach of its statutory duty.
The loss adjusters, MCL Global denied liability on behalf of the Defendant during the portal phase before formal proceedings were issued.
Liability continued to be denied on the basis that the ladder had been removed to prevent people from accessing the scaffold and a "Do Not Use" scaff-tag had been fitted on the structure to inform users that the scaffolding was not safe to use until an inspection had been undertaken.
The matter proceeded to trial and after hearing the evidence from the Claimant's witnesses, the Claimant sought to discontinue his claim. During the evidence it was accepted by the Claimant's witnesses that there had been no ladder on the scaffolding that morning and it was common ground that this was subsequently erected by the Claimant's father prior to working on the plot. In addition, the Claimant's witnesses all admitted that the site manager had not confirmed that the scaffold was "safe to use" and that that they had not specifically checked to see if there was a scaff-tag on the scaffold which they were aware of, such information having been provided during the induction period by the Defendant.
The evidence that emerged during cross examination was overwhelming and confirmed that the Claimant had been the author of his own misfortune.
This case demonstrates the importance of ensuring health and safety procedures are implemented and adhered to. In addition, workers on construction sites whether direct employees or sub-contractors must be made aware of site health and safety policies to ensure that they do not take unnecessary risks to put themselves and others in danger. In this case the Defendant had effective and documented systems in place which supported their defence of the claim.