Is it possible to claim compensation for falling down poorly lit stairs in an office? The lift was out of order and I had to take the stairs. The lighting was terrible and I slipped and fell down the stairs and broke my ankle.

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

You are certainly entitled to make a claim for compensation for falling down poorly lit stairs in an office if lighting levels were insufficient. Poor lighting in office stairwells increases the risk of tripping, slipping and falling at work. A slip and fall on stairs can have potentially fatal consequences, and poorly lit office stairs represent a serious breach in Health and Safety regulations.

The minimum acceptable lighting level for internal stairs is less than for general office use. The Building Regulations (2009) in Ireland state that lighting levels at tread level should be at least 100 Lux. If the lighting level was below this threshold, you may have a valid claim for falling down poorly lit stairs in an office.

Lighting on the stairs should have been checked as part of your employer’s health and safety risk assessment. If the lighting level was poor, action should have been taken to address the issue. Failure to address health and safety issues, or to miss them entirely from a risk assessment, is considered to be negligence. If this is the case, you would certainly have grounds for making a claim for compensation for falling down poorly lit stairs in an office against your employer’s liability insurance policy.

However, if the lighting was poor due to a temporary problem such as a broken light bulb, your employer may not be liable for your injuries. Regular checks should take place to ensure that the lighting is sufficient; however an employer would not be expected to constantly monitor the office stair lighting. A claim for compensation for falling down poorly lit stairs in an office due to a burned out light bulb may hinge on the length of time between inspections and how long the lighting had been insufficient. If your employer failed to make a regular check of the stairs, or was aware of the problem and did not act within a reasonable period of time, a claim for compensation for falling down poorly lit stairs in an office should be possible.

Every year many successful claims are filed in Ireland by accident victims for injuries caused by poor office lighting. Since low level lighting makes slipping, tripping and falling more likely, employers must be particularly diligent when it comes to assessing light levels in the office and making sure they are sufficient.

Determining whether your employer is liable will require evidence of negligence to be gathered. If you use a solicitor to pursue your office stair lighting injury claim, the necessary checks will be completed at your office including measuring the light levels with a light meter. If it can be established that the lighting levels are insufficient, your claim for compensation for falling down poorly lit stairs in an office should have every likelihood of being successful.

As it is likely that any faulty lighting installation will be repaired soon after your accident, you should speak with a solicitor at the first possible opportunity to receive advice which is relevant to your personal situation about claiming compensation for falling down poorly lit stairs in an office.