Evans v Sant: QBD 1975

In the course of laying a water-main, a test-head was attached between the pipe and a pump to test the water pressure, but it was insecurely fitted and, as pressure built up, it blew off, causing the death of a workman who ran into the path of a passing car.
Held: On a case stated by magistrates after conviction, the defendant’s appeal was allowed. The guiding light in the court’s approach was that: ‘in deciding whether the place of work was made safe, it is the place qua place that we look at, and not the place qua operation carried on upon the place.’ Lord Widgery CJ continued to say: ‘That does not mean of course that in deciding whether the place is made safe one has total disregard for the activities which go on in the place itself. The safety of the place depends not simply on the construction of the floor or the solidity of the walls, but it also depends in some degree upon the nature of the operations carried on therein. In so far as there is permanent equipment in the place, then its safety can in my judgment reflect on the safety of the place. In so far as there are activities carried on in the place which are constant, regular and recurring, I can well see that they may have their impact on the question of whether the place has been made safe.’ and ‘Where, as in the present case, you start with a place safe in every degree, and the only thing which renders it unsafe is the fact that equipment brought upon it for a particular operation, and being used for a particular operation on a particular day, produces an element of danger, it seems to me that that is not enough to justify the allegation, certainly in criminal proceedings, that the place itself has not been made safe.’


Lord Widgery CJ, Bridge and Shaw JJ


[1975] QB 626


England and Wales

Cited by:

CitedBaker v Quantum Clothing Group Ltd and Others SC 13-Apr-2011
The court was asked as to the liability of employers in the knitting industry for hearing losses suffered by employees before the 1989 Regulations came into effect. The claimant had worked in a factory between 1971 and 2001, sustaining noise induced . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Health and Safety, Crime

Updated: 05 April 2022; Ref: scu.440375