Water inspector failed to take reasonable care for his safety when using steep incline to access manhole

By: James Cross BL

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High Court dismisses personal injuries claim arising from a slip and fall at work, on the grounds that a water inspector did not exercise common sense, and failed to take reasonable care for his own safety by using the steep incline to access the manhole when there was a flat route a modest distance away,

Personal injuries – water inspector slipped on a steep grassy bank at a reservoir – injured his back - one of his daily tasks was to check the water level in the reservoir by lifting the manhole cover on the top of the reservoir - route that he took to the manhole cover was up a steep bank - while he was descending the bank that the alleged incident occurred - no witnesses to this accident – County Council argued that he should have taken the safer available route – whether there was a safe system of work – predecessor also took the steep incline – no evidence that he was obliged to take this route - s. 13(1)(a) of the Safety and Health at Work Act, 2005 an employee has a duty to take reasonable care for his safety – colleague previously slipped on the same incline – whether previous incident was reported – injuries appeared to have worsened inexplicably after the incident - High Court is obliged to bring ordinary common sense to bear on what amounts to reasonable care by a plaintiff - common sense is also relevant to employees who are injured at work as a result of the alleged negligence of their employers - would have known that walking up a very steep bank is a lot riskier than walking to the same location by a route that is almost flat - Court concludes that the water inspector did not take reasonable care for his own safety by using the steep incline to access the manhole when there was a flat route a modest distance away – failed to exercise common sense - claim dismissed.

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