Munro v Aberdeen City Council: SCS 17 Sep 2009

Safety Duty on Employer was not Absolute

The pursuer was injured slipping on ice in her defender employer’s car park. Liability depended on the interpretation of regulation 5, the claimant saying that it imposed an absolute requirement to maintain the workplace in efficient working order and good repair. The defender said it was governed by regulation 12.
Held: The Workplace Directive ‘does not clearly impose on employers any absolute duty to secure the safety of either new or existing workplaces under all possible conditions’ and ‘If the pursuer has a statutory claim in respect of her injury . . it lies under regulation 12(3), which would afford the defenders the opportunity to prove that no reasonably practicable steps on their part would have prevented it. In other words, regulations 5(1) and 12(3) of the 1992 Regulations simply reflect the long established dichotomy between absolute duties for long-term dangers and qualified duties for short-lived transient conditions.’

Lord Malcolm
[2009] ScotCS CSOH – 129
Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 5(1) 12(3)
CitedMillar v Galashiels Gas Co Ltd; Galashiels Gas Company Ltd v O’Donnell HL 20-Jan-1949
A hoist mechanism failed, the employee was injured, and he sought damages from his employer under the Act.
Held: The section imposes an absolute obligation to maintain work equipment in an efficient state or in efficient working order. The . .
CitedLatimer v AEC Limited HL 25-Jun-1953
The Appellant had recovered damages for injuries which he alleged had been the result of a failure on the part of the Respondents in their statutory duty to maintain one of the gangways in their works in an efficient state. He slipped on a factory . .
CitedLewis v Avidan Ltd (T/A High Meadow Nursing Home) CA 13-Apr-2005
A nurse claimed damages after slipping on a patch of water in the nursing home where she worked. The defendant argued that the pipe which had broken was not equipment so as to make it liable.
Held: The nurse’s appeal failed. The mere fact of . .
ApprovedMcEwan v Lothian Buses Plc OHCS 4-Apr-2006
Mr McEwan was a probationary fitter employed to maintain and repair buses. He slipped on the surface of a board which was wet and slippery because of a spillage of coolant fluid.
Held: The defenders had failed to prove that it would have been . .
CitedGilmour v East Renfrewshire Council OHCS 5-Dec-2003
The pursuer, a teacher slipped on a potato chip on a ramp leading from the school kitchen.
Held: Given the nature of the flooring and the slope of the ramp there was a real risk of slipping, which was increased by the presence of the chip. The . .
CitedGallagher v Kleinwort Benson (Trustees) Limited and others SCS 12-Mar-2003
. .
CitedGilmour v East Renfrewshire Council SCS 29-May-2002
. .
CitedLove v North Lanarkshire Council OHCS 23-Jan-2007
. .
CitedStark v Post Office CA 2-Mar-2000
A component in a postman’s bicycle gave way even though the machine had been sensibly maintained and checked. He sought damages for his injuries.
Held: The duty imposed by the regulations was absolute, and an employee postal worker who was . .
CitedMcLaughlin v East and Midlothian NHS Trust SCS 9-May-2000
. .
CitedButler v Grampian University Hospitals NHS Trust SCS 22-May-2002
. .
CitedBruce v Ben Odeco Limited IHCS 1996
A mechanic on a drilling rig slipped because of grease on the floor.
Held: This was a transient condition which was not the result of a lack of maintenance of the structure of the floor itself.
Lord Clyde said: ‘Within the context of . .
CitedGreen v Yorkshire Traction Company Ltd CA 5-Dec-2001
Mr Green was a bus driver who slipped on the step of his bus. Passengers had dripped rainwater on the step. Counsel for Mr Green referred to article 5(1) of the Framework Directive which states: ‘The employer shall have a duty to ensure the safety . .
CitedEnglish v North Lanarkshire Council SCS 22-Jan-1999
The application of the phrase ‘work equipment’ is to protect the workman using such equipment. This might embrace routine maintenance or cleaning or even minor repairing while the machine is operating. The 1998 Regulations should not be interpreted . .
CitedCommission v United Kingdom (Social Policy) ECJ 18-Jan-2007
The Commission sought a declaration that, by restricting the duty of employers to care for the health and safety of their employees ‘so far as reasonably practicable’, the United Kingdom had failed to fulfil its obligations under article 5(1) and . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Health and Safety

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.374740