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Eileen Jane O'Neill v. University of the West of Scotland [2011] CSOH 52


The pursuer had been an employee of the defenders when she was involved in an accident at work. She sued for her injuries, relying on Regulations 5(1), 12(1) and 12(3) of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 2003. Quantum was agreed in this case; the only outstanding issues before the court were the matters of liability and any element of contributory negligence on the part of the pursuer.

At proof, the court heard that the pursuer tripped over a single step at the height of 110 cms in a doorway, having entered the relevant building from the outside. To the pursuer's mind, the surface she was stepping on to was flat; she did not see the step and consequently tripped, falling to the floor with outstretched arms, sustaining a broken arm.

The court noted that it had no difficulty in concluding that the step represented a safety hazard and presented a real risk of injury to those that worked within the building. Safety measures taken by the defenders were not sufficient to eliminate this risk and consequently, the court found the defenders in breach of Regulation 12(1). While the court accepted that the pursuer was under some duty to take reasonable care where she placed her feet and to take reasonable care in her surroundings, the court found that there was nonetheless no basis for a finding of contributory negligence as the step was not marked as a hazard and the decoration of the building added to the greyness of the floor and the perceived flatness of the surface. Decree granted for the sum of £15,500 in favour of the pursuer.