News / General

EMPLOYER'S LIABILITY - EXTENT OF FORSEEABILITY

By SLAS Spokesperson

When workman had failed to fixed a ladder properly and an employee fell from the ladder and suffered injury, the House held that the employers had been in breach of regulations 4 and 20 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (SI1998, number 2306) which gave effect to council directives 89/391/EEC (OJ June 29, 1989, L183./1-8 and 89/655/EEC (OJ December 30, 1989, L393/13-17).  When an employer was assessing the risks to which his employees might be exposed, he had to consider not only the skilled and careful man but also the contingency of carelessness and the frequency with which that contingency was likely to arise.  The Sheriff had found that because there was no evidence about previous accidents of this kind, it was therefore not reasonably foreseeable that the ladders might not have been properly fixed and might cause injury.  In ROBB v SALAMIS (M&I) LTD,  House of Lords 13th December 2006, reported in The Times 22nd December 2006, the House found, however, that the employer had had a duty to anticipate situations that might give rise to accidents and that he was not permitted to wait for accidents to happen.  The leading judgement was given by Lord Hope and Lord Rodger delivered an opinion agreeing with Lord Hope.

This case provides some insight into the meaning of reasonable foreseeability but it also demonstrates  the increasing extent to which reference is now made to EU sources, even in relation to issues of private law between individuals in Scotland.

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