On September 3rd, at 6.15 pm, Helen, a recently-employed administrative assistant tripped and fell down the stairs of her employer’s office, Atlas Safety Supplies Ltd.
The organisation was busy negotiating a very lucrative contract to provide large quantities of PPE to a number of public healthcare providers. The contract would finally make the company profitable and allow them to refurbish and modernise their office which was in a poor state of repair.
In late August, days before Helen’s accident, another member of staff tripped on the same section of worn-out carpet on the main staircase. Luckily for him, he was holding the handrail and caught himself before he fell. The incident was reported to the Managing Director, James Davis.
James was was incredibly busy trying to secure the contract with the healthcare providers. Since no one had been injured in the incident, he took no further action. After all, replacement carpets would be part of the refurbishment and then the problem would disappear.
Contract negotiations took several weeks, and the procurement process required large amounts of paperwork to be updated and provided. The contract was finally signed but the first order needed to be produced on a very tight deadline. The office and production areas became very busy and untidy. Staff were regularly required to work extra hours. James himself was finding it difficult to manage the vast amounts of paperwork. Helen had only worked for James for a month and was specifically employed to help deal with the paperwork. James hadn’t yet had the chance to give her the company induction training that should have occurred within the first week of employment. Instead, he promised to let her have a copy of the company rules as soon as he could find them. He forgot to mention the rules included holding staircase handrails.
Helen was keen to impress by working extra hours and assist James in any way she could. On September 3rd at 6.15 pm, she cleared James’ office of dirty coffee mugs and started to carry them downstairs using both hands. She was planning to take them to the kitchen and make both him and her a coffee. She started to go down the main staircase carrying the empty mugs. The high heel of her shoe got caught on the worn carpet. She tripped and fell down a full flight of stairs. Her head hit the wall and she suffered multiple bruising on her body. She lost consciousness on impact. A first aider put her into the recovery position and called an ambulance.