Janitor Awarded Compensation for a Slip on Ice at School

A janitor has been awarded compensation for a slip on ice at school – the injuries from which resulted in him losing his job.

In November 2010, Stephen McKeown from Port Glasgow in Inverclyde worked as a janitor at St Stephen´s High School in Port Glasgow. One week, he was asked to cover for the permanent janitor at the nearby  at St Francis´ Primary School, and he arrived on the Monday morning at 7.00am to start clearing ice which had formed overnight from the paths to the classrooms and the playground.

From 9.00am onwards, sixty-one year old Stephen salted by hand the areas of lower priority – such as the school´s parking lot – but, during the first lesson break, two pupils drew his attention to a condom at the top of one of the fire escapes leading to the classrooms. As he climbed the steps of the fire escape, Stephen slipped on the icy stairs and fell against a wall – damaging his back and suffering a leg injury.

Unable to maintain his janitor duties, Stephen´s work contract was terminated by Inverclyde Council – following which, Stephen claimed compensation for a slip on ice at school with the assistance of a lawyer. Inverclyde Council denied their liability for his injuries and the case went to the Outer House of the Court of Session, where it was heard by Lord Burns.

After hearing evidence from both parties, Lord Burns found in Stephen´s favour; for although the council had a system of work in place which could have prevented Stephen from suffering his injuries, it was never implemented – nor was Stephen ever provided with the tools which would have made jobs such as spreading salt on icy days safer and more effective.

Lord Burns awarded Stephen £30,000 compensation for a slip on ice at school, finding that Inverclyde Council had been in breach of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.