Working at height is always potentially hazardous and the consequences of health and safety breaches can be extremely costly in human, financial and reputational terms. That was certainly so in the case of an electrician who received seven-figure compensation after falling 10 metres through an open hatch whilst working at a television studio.
The man suffered a severe brain injury, spinal damage requiring major surgery and multiple orthopaedic injuries when he fell onto concrete. His personality has since changed and he needs crutches to walk any distance. His vision is disturbed and his senses of taste of smell impaired. He suffers constant pain in his lower limbs and is at risk of developing epilepsy and early onset dementia.
After action was taken on his behalf, the company that occupied the studio argued that he was in part the author of his own misfortune on the basis that the open hatch was there to be seen and posed an obvious danger. Following negotiations, however, it agreed to settle his claim for a lump sum of £4 million.
The company had reached an agreement with a contractor that bore responsibility for installing and removing equipment from the studio whereby the latter would contribute to the settlement sum. In approving the settlement as being in the man's best interests, the High Court described it as entirely acceptable.