Harrison v National Coal Board: HL 1951

The plaintiff sought damages from his employer after suffering injury when a co-worker fired a shot in the colliery, acting in breach of the regulations.
Held: There was no vicarious liability duty in law on the managers to ensure compliance by their workers to the regulations.
Lord MacDermott (obiter) said: ‘The fireman in doing his work as a shot-firer was acting in the course of his employment by the defenders. In the performance of his work he was required by the regulations to adopt certain precautions which Parliament had prescribed for the safety of those employed in coal mines. But it is not correct to say that he was not acting for his master. The firing of the shots was the work which he was employed by the defenders to do. His failure to take the precautions which Parliament has required of him did not take him outwith the scope of his employment. Accordingly, his acts were still within the area in which the vicarious responsibility of a master operates.’
Vicarious liability was not confined to common law negligence: ‘It arises from the servant’s tortious act in the scope of his employment and there can be no doubt that [the servant] in breaking the shot-firing regulations committed a tort.’
Lord MacDermott: ‘Vicarious liability is not confined to common law negligence. It arises from the servant’s tortious act in the scope of his employment and there can now be no doubt that [the employee] breaking the shot-firing regulations committed a tort.’
Lord Porter said that the Factories Act is ‘a remedial measure passed for the protection of the workmen [which] must, therefore, be read so as to effect its object so far as the wording fairly and reasonably permits’.

Lord MacDermott, Lord Porter
[1951] AC 639, [1951] 1 TLR 1079, [1951] 95 Sol Jo 413, [1951] 1 All ER 1102
England and Wales
Cited by:
CitedNicol v National Coal Board SCS 1952
The court considered a claim against his employer after the plaintiff suffered injury after a breach of safety regulations by a co-worker.
Held: Referring to Harrison v NCB: ‘It appears to me that that principle disposes of the argument . .
CitedMajrowski v Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust CA 16-Mar-2005
The claimant had sought damages against his employer, saying that they had failed in their duty to him under the 1997 Act in failing to prevent harassment by a manager. He appealed a strike out of his claim.
Held: The appeal succeeded. The . .
CitedMajrowski v Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust HL 12-Jul-2006
Employer can be liable for Managers Harassment
The claimant employee sought damages, saying that he had been bullied by his manager and that bullying amounting to harassment under the 1997 Act. The employer now appealed a finding that it was responsible for a tort committed by a manager, saying . .
CitedMcDonald v National Grid Electricity Transmission Plc SC 22-Oct-2014
Contact visiting plants supported asbestos claim
The deceased had worked as a lorry driver regularly collecting pulverized fuel ash from a power station. On his visits he was at areas with asbestos dust. He came to die from mesothelioma. His widow now pursued his claim that the respondent had . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Utilities, Vicarious Liability, Health and Safety

Leading Case

Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.241425