Court awards £9,600 for shop worker’s ladder fall

A shop worker who slipped and fell while reaching for a box has won compensation of £9,600.

Elizabeth McLachlan was employed at a branch of the Early Learning Centre in Glasgow as a senior sales assistant. A customer wished to see the size of the box for a toy tractor, to see whether or not it would fit in her car.

The box was at the back of the top shelf in the store room. A colleague, who gave her height as 5ft 1in, first tried to reach the box using an A-frame ladder, then asked for help when she was unable to retrieve it. Mrs McLachlan, who is a similar height, then climbed the 12-foot ladder, but she couldn’t reach the box either. By her account, she decided to reposition the ladder and fell as she was climbing down to do so. Her colleague’s recollection was that Mrs McLachlan placed her right foot on the shelf containing the box while leaving her left foot on the top step of the ladder. At that point the ladder began to shake and she fell.

Mrs McLachlan attended the Accident and Emergency Department, where she was found to have suffered damage to her back, elbow and calf. She had a history of back pain, but this was much worse after the accident, making it difficult for her to carry out everyday tasks.

The Early Learning Centre admitted liability for a breach of Regulation 6(2) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. Mrs McLachlan ought not to have been put in a position where she was required to climb a ladder to a height from which she could fall and be injured. The court awarded damages of £12,800 but found that a reduction of 25 per cent for contributory negligence would be just and equitable in the circumstances.

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