A decision handed down by the NSW Court of Appeal in late August provides significant guidance to the standard expected of cleaners (of all types), in order to avoid liability and satisfy their obligation under a contract of cleaning.
The case is Argo Managing Agency Pty Ltd v Al Kammessy, which decided the principle that cleaners who are not perfect are not necessarily negligent.
In this case, a gentleman slipped on liquid at a large shopping centre. A cleaner had travelled past the area of the liquid 90 seconds before the fall. The gentleman sued the shopping centre and the cleaning company.
Crucially, it was decided that a ‘contract cleaner’ complies with their contract for service, even where a spill is not detected by the cleaner, provided they are exercising “reasonable care” – perfection on the part of the cleaner is not required.
A contract does not guarantee that contract cleaners will remove every hazard in their surveillance of floors.
Factors involved in establishing that the cleaner was not liable include: the wet patch extended over a small area; the liquid was difficult to detect because of the design of the (terrazzo floor); the area was heavily trafficked; and that there was no reason for the cleaner to expect wet patches in the subject area.