Brief Fact Summary. This is an appeal from a farm employee, Stinnett (Appellant) challenging a grant of summary judgment to his employer, Buchele (Appellee) in an action by Appellant for injuries suffered when he fell off a barn, which was painting. Appellant maintained that the injuries were sustained during the course and scope of employment, the employer, Appellee, had a duty to provide a safe work environment, and as a result, he was entitled to the recovery of damages.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. An employer cannot be required to guarantee an absolutely safe place of employment. An employer is required to take reasonable and prudent steps to ensure safety, and there is no responsibility for additional steps “where the employees’ means of knowledge of the dangers to be incurred is equal to that of the employer.”
Issue. To what degree is an employer required to provide a safe working environment?
Held. There was no showing of any negligence on the part of Appellee arising solely out of the fact that he had asked Appellant to paint the barn roof.
Discussion. As the Stinnett court observes: “[t]he liability of the employer rests upon the assumption that the employer has a better and more comprehensive knowledge than the employees, and ceases to be applicable where the employees’ means of knowledge of the dangers to be incurred is equal to that of the employer.” Further, while several federal statutes provide for various forms of workers compensation, in certain instances employees are excluded from such protection, and must seek remedies through tort actions.