Contributory Negligence in the Workplace

Category: Accidents at Work, Personal Injury

When an injury at work occurs, who is to blame? If the incident gives rise to a claim, blame is usually assigned to the defendant. However, a lot of cases aren’t so cut and dried, they may well be more complicated. It is likely that contributory negligence will be found if the accident can is partly or wholly your fault.

In theory, a Claimant in this way can be found between 1% – 99% contributory negligent. However, in the context of accidents at work, the degree of fault is generally far below 50%.

The case of Mr Lewis Casson

The Court of Appeal has recently examined what the employer has to prove to establish contributory negligence on the part of the Claimant.  The case concerned that of Lewis Casson who was injured at work. Mr. Casson climbed a ladder to brush some debris off the side of a machine near a moving conveyor and. Unfortunately, his glove became trapped in the moving parts of the machinery sustaining an injury to his hand.  The Judge found that he had not received any training and therefore his employers were primarily liable for his injuries. Mr Casson’s claim was reduced by 10% as what he was doing posed a risk to his own health and safety.


The court of Appeal disagreed. The moving conveyor was in continuous operation throughout the day. The Claimant and his fellow employees were given no opportunity to clean the machine when the rollers were not moving.  If the Claimant and his colleagues had confined their activities to the area suggested by the employer, the area beneath the rollers would not have been cleaned.

Every other employee charged with the task of cleaning the machine did exactly what the Claimant did. This, therefore, strongly supported the conclusion that the Claimant’s conduct did not amount to contributory negligence.  In conclusion, the Court went on to underline that near inadvertents on the part of an employee, does not amount to contributory negligence. There must be a greater degree of fault.

Under the circumstances, Mr. Casson was awarded 100% of his compensation. There was no deduction for contributory negligence.

What now?

Have you suffered an accident at work? Even though you feel you may be partially to blame, please contact our specialist team as soon as possible. Above all, they will be able to give you a free appraisal of your case.