Court of Appeal awards care assistant damages for injuries she sustained when she slipped on a wet floor

A Court of Appeal decision on the case of a care worker who slipped on a wet floor has extended the liability of employers to ensure floors are suitable for use, warns law firm DWF.

In the case of Ellis v Bristol City Council, the court awarded care assistant Susan Ellis damages for injuries she sustained when she slipped on a pool of urine left by one of the residents in the main corridor.

The case centred on Regulation 12 of the Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992 which specifies that floors should be ‘suitable for the purpose’ for which they are used. The claimant argued that the vinyl floor was unsuitable because residents urinated on it frequently and it became slippery when wet.

Tom Higson, defendant personal injury solicitor with DWF said: “Prior to this case the courts had approached strict liability under this Regulation on the basis that it was applicable only in relation to the construction of the floor itself and not with cases involving hazards posed by substances accumulating on the surface.”

He added: “Following this ruling, judgments will have to be made on the facts of each case as to whether hazards arise with sufficient regularity to make the floor unsuitable for use.”