With the wet season upon us, it is important to remember the duty of care owed by occupiers to patrons and visitors of their premises. In Sutherland Shire Council v Safar  NSWCA 203 the Court of Appeal recently upheld a decision finding an occupier responsible for a patron’s slip and fall.
In this case, the injured person was attending a dance eisteddfod at an entertainment centre when she slipped on a wet floor adjacent to the foyer. The local Council owned and occupied the premises. It was a rainy day and water had accumulated on the foyer floor from umbrellas and other patrons entering the building from the rain. There had also been other previous incidents of patrons slipping on the same floor when it was wet.
The Court found that the Council was or should have been aware of the presence of water on the floor, and that it ought to have taken steps to eliminate or reduce the risks of slipping. On this basis, the Court agreed that it was reasonably foreseeable that a patron could slip and fall on the wet floor.
In assessing what reasonable precautions the occupiers could have taken to eliminate or reduce the risk of patrons slipping, the court considered the following:
- Providing buckets for wet umbrellas;
- Providing a bagging system for wet umbrellas;
- Providing patrons with area to hang wet jackets, raincoats, etc
- Placing mats on the ground; and
- Employing a person with a mop to wipe water off of the floor.
When considering which of the above were reasonable, the Court of Appeal looked at the simplicity and suitability of these precautions. The Court found that providing buckets and a bagging system for wet umbrellas was reasonable under the circumstances. It also found that having patrons leave wet raincoats and items outside the auditorium was also reasonable. It was agreed that if these precautions had been taken, the floor would have remained dry.
This decision emphasises the need for an injured person to show that the slip and fall would not have happened had reasonable precautions been taken.
If you have suffered an injury from a slip and fall, or if you are an occupier of premises and need advice on reasonable precautions, our compensation team can assist you with your query.
Please do not hesitate to contact our office on (07) 4963 2000 or via our online contact form should you have any queries.