One of Scotland’s biggest trade unions has welcomed a “landmark” decision at the Supreme Court which has found in favour of a care worker left injured after she slipped on ice on her way to the home of a terminally ill woman.
In a ruling that could have widespread health and safety implications for employers across the country, Tracey Kennedy has won a five-year battle against Cordia.
The 45-year-old seriously injured her wrist after falling in wintry conditions while en route to the woman’s home in the Crookston area of Glasgow in December 2010.
Her legal team said that under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, Cordia was duty-bound to provide ensure equipment was provided to staff if they could not control the risk of slipping on ice.
Cordia argued that Ms Kennedy could have made the decision not to go out that night because the conditions were hazardous.
In 2013 at the Court of Session, Lord McEwan ruled she was entitled to damages as Cordia had not supplied the proper footwear.
At the original court case, Lord McEwan said Ms Kennedy was on “an errand of mercy” when she slipped and could not be said to have embarked on a risky course of action.
It was claimed Cordia, an arms-length organisation of Glasgow City Council, were in breach of duty by failing to provide, instruct in the use of and ensure that Ms Kennedy used attachments to be worn over footwear to give a better grip in snowy or icy conditions. During the appeal, Lady Smith, Lord Brodie and Lord Clarke. at the Inner House of the Court of Session found in favour of Cordia, with Lord Brodie stating that the first ruling lacked “a balancing of both sides of the argument with a view to determining whether it would be fair, just and reasonable to find there to be a duty of care of the scope contended for.”
However, five Supreme Court judges yesterday upheld the original judgment unanimously.
Lord Reed, sitting with Lord Hodge, Lady Hale, Lord Wilson and Lord Toulson, found that Lord McEwan was entitled to conclude that Cordia had breached the regulations.
Louise Gilmour, the GMB Scotland organiser for Cordia,said it was a great decision for workers who suffer from accidents at work.”
She explained: “It is a landmark decision not only for peripatetic workers such as home carers, but for all workers.”