Health and safety

Health and safety dismissals: relevance of employer’s belief

The fact that an employer did not believe there was a situation of ‘serious and imminent’ danger did not prevent an employee’s dismissal from being automatically unfair. For a health and safety dismissal to be automatically unfair, an employee must simply hold an honest and reasonable belief that such a danger existed – the fact that the employer may disagree with the employee is irrelevant.
Oudahar v Esporta Group Ltd
 

Liability of employer under PUWER

Companies cannot be sued by staff injured when using equipment not provided or maintained by their employer. The House of Lords ruled against a care worker who tried to sue her employer after she was injured when a ramp (at the home of a person she was caring for) caused her to fall - even though the ramp had not been installed by the council for whom she worked.

Smith v Northamptonshire County Council
 

Contractor and sub-contractor liable for negligence

The Court of Appeal held that two employers can both be vicariously liable for the negligence of an employee.

Viasystems (Tyneside) Ltd v Thermal Transfer (Northern) Ltd
 

Whether employer liable for employee’s for suicide

The House of Lords has ruled that a widow of a man who killed himself 6 years after an industial accident should be compensated by his former employer. Following a serious injury at work Mr Corr suffered depression and eventually, six years after the accident, committed suicide.

Corr v IBC Vehicles Ltd
 

Scope of risk assessments

Ms Allison was a driver on London Underground and also a trainer of other drivers. She suffered severe shoulder strain and damage to her thumb as a result of having to use the traction brake controller (TBC) to drive a train.

Allison v London Underground Ltd
 

Scope of ‘reasonably practicable’

Many of the obligations in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 are qualified by the phrase ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’.

EC Commission v UK
 


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