Search court cases and case law in the UK


James Doran v. Shanks Waste Management [2010] CSOH 91


The pursuer was employed by the defenders as a HGV driver until an accident occurred at work in August 2008. He was dismissed from his employment one month later following disciplinary procedure. At the time of the accident, he had been driving lorries for approximately 40 years.

On the date of the accident, the pursuer was operating a “skip” or “bucket” lorry. These lorries held skips on their lorry bed, and sometimes these skips were held in chains. The pursuer's job was to collect waste in the skip and then drive it back to the depot to be emptied. When full, the skip was covered with a net to keep the waste inside the skip. In order to empty the skip at the depot therefore, the net would have to be removed.

The pursuer noted in evidence that the “de-netting” area at the depot was often busy with drivers, and it was common, in order to save a few moments of time, to release the net ties while waiting to deposit the waste. On the date of the accident, he decided to untie the tiers, and to do so, used the controls within the cab of the lorry to move the skip back thereby creating some space. He then climbed up the ladder onto the lorry and loosened the tiers at the front of the skip. He turned round and caught his foot in a space created by the movement of the hydraulic ram on the lorry, and fell off, sustaining injuries.

In evidence, the pursuer noted that he had never been told not to climb on to the back of the lorry for this purpose, and noted that other workers often did so. They often did so in front of managers, so he was surprised when he was dismissed as a result of his actions, as he assumed that the managers must have known this was a common occurrence. This was supported by a number of other witnesses, particularly the pursuer's former work colleagues. Additionally, evidence was led that the training received by employees of the defender amounted to a minimal signing of paper work, without emphasising the content of their health and safety policy to employees. An expert witness gave evidence that this was simply not enough to effectively manage the health and safety risk of workers when operating skip lorries.

The pursuer submitted that the defender was in breach of Regulations 4, 8 and 9 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, and had additionally breached Regulation 13 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Further, the pursuer argued that the defender was also in breach of Regulations 4 and 6 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The court considered the pursuer and his witnesses credible, and accordingly, found the defender in breach of all above noted provisions, as well as in breach of their common law duty to devise and implement a safe system of work for the pursuer.

The court further considered aspects of contributory negligence affecting the pursuer's claim. The court found the pursuer failed to have due regard to his own safety by climbing up onto the lorry, and did not take care where he placed his feet. Decree granted for £45,000 less 20% contributory negligence, being £36,000.