A school caretaker has successfully sued Hampshire County Council after he was injured falling off a stepladder. Anthony Gower-Smith, 73, fell off the 6ft (180cm) stepladder at Awbridge Primary School in Romsey in 2004. In court, he claimed his employer had not shown him how to use the ladder. The council denied negligence. However, Mr Gower-Smith won his case (27 June) on the basis the council was 75% to blame. His compensation will now be assessed.
Mr Gower-Smith, who had made a claim for £50,000, suffered a fractured skull, fractured cheek bone and kidney injuries in the fall, leading to treatment in intensive care. He has not been able to work since the accident. Hampshire County Council said the caretaker was given adequate training and equipment to do the job.
The authority said Mr Gower-Smith signed an induction training sheet in 2002 on starting the job to show he had received training to use stepladders.
At the time a health and safety report said the council was not at fault and the council claimed that Mr Gower-Smith had positioned the ladder improperly before overbalancing.
At London’s High Court, Recorder Christopher Moger QC, said Mr Gower-Smith’s training was deficient. Mr Gower-Smith knew he should not go on to the top platform of the ladder but did so and, by doing so, increased the likelihood of it overturning.
“Notwithstanding his self-confidence and readiness to trust in his own judgement, I find that his lack of training was responsible for his lack of awareness of the extent of the danger posed and therefore the accident itself,” said Moger.