Spencer-Franks v Kellogg Brown and Root Ltd and others: HL 2 Jul 2008

The deceased worked for the defendants on an oil rig. He was injured by a door closer he was attempting to repair. The defendants denied that the mechanism was equipment within the Regulations.
Held: The appeal was allowed. The door closer was apparatus for use at work, though provided by a different company. The Regulations went beyond the scope of the Directive and did not limit liability to employers only, but did not specify the provider. The answer to the difficulty of finding an employer strictly liable for defects in equipment over which he had no control must be found in regulation 3(2), which delimits the area of the employer’s responsibility, rather than by giving an artificial and relativist meaning to the definition of work equipment in regulation 2(1).
Lord Rodger said: ‘when selecting any item of work equipment, under Regulation 4(2) the platform operator would indeed have to consider whether a major repair could be carried out without imperilling the safety of the platform and everyone on it. Indeed, that is just common sense – not only for oil platforms but for any factory or workplace where major repairs to equipment may have to be carried out. In my view, the word ‘repairing’ in Regulation 2(1) should therefore be given its ‘ordinary’ meaning. In terms of that ordinary meaning, on his averments, the pursuer was engaged in ‘repairing’, and so ‘using’, the door, or door closer, when the arm of the closer sprang out and injured him. ‘

Lord Hoffmann, Lord Rodger of Earlsferry, Lord Carswell, Lord Mance, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury
[2008] UKHL 46, Times 03-Jul-2008, [2008] ICR 863, [2009] 1 All ER 269, 2008 Rep LR 106, 2008 SLT 675, [2008] PIQR P22, (2008) 158 NLJ 1004, 2008 SCLR 484, (2008) 105(27) LSG 17, (2008) 152(27) SJLB 30
Bailii, HL
Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (SI 1998/2306) 3, Council Directive 89/655/EEC
CitedPRP Architects v Reid CA 28-Jul-2006
A lift was held to be work equipment within the Regulations. . .
CitedBreslin v Britoil plc 1992
The regulation makes no distinction between the fabric of the installation and the equipment. The duty applied equally to both, and the liability which it creates is strict: . .
Not approvedHammond v Commissioner of Police for Metropolis and others CA 11-Jun-2004
The claimant mechanic was employed by the Commissioner of Police. He was working on the wheel of a police dog van when the shearing of a wheel bolt caused him to suffer injury. The question was whether the van was ‘work equipment’ within the meaning . .
CitedJames Edward Beck v United Closures and Plastics Plc SCS 22-Jun-2001
Two heavy doors in which the pursuer trapped his hand were not within the definition of workplace, which contemplated open spaces, but did constitute work equipment in terms of the 1998 Regulations. . .
CitedDuncanson v South Ayrshire Council 1999
A steel storage cabinet was held to be work equipment. . .
CitedMackie v Dundee City Council 2001
A dining hall table being moved by a caretaker was held to be work equipment. . .
CitedRobb v Salamis (M and I) Ltd HL 13-Dec-2006
The claimant was injured working for the defendants on a semi-submersible platform. He fell from a ladder which was not secured properly. He alleged a breach of the Regulations. The defendant denied any breach and asserted that the claimant had . .
CitedHaigh v Charles W Ireland Ltd HL 1974
. .
CitedKnowles v Liverpool City Council HL 15-Oct-1993
A flagstone being laid by a council employee was held to be ‘equipment provided by his employer for the purposes of the employer’s business’ under the 1969 Act. An employer is liable for the defective equipment he provides. What is equipment will . .
CitedCandace Donaldson v Hays Distribution Services Limited C B Hillier Parker Management Services Limited and C B Hillier Parker Limited National Britannia Health and Safety Limited OHCS 14-Jun-2005
A visitor who was crushed between a lorry and a loading bay while collecting her purchases at a shopping centre did not have a strict liability claim under the 1992 Regulations against the lorry driver’s employers or the controllers of the bay. . .

Cited by:
CitedSmith v Northamptonshire County Council HL 20-May-2009
The claimant, a health care worker was visiting the home of a client when she fell from a defective wheelchair ramp and suffered injury. She sought damages from her employer.
Held: Her appeal failed (Lord Hope and Lady Hale dissenting). The . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Health and Safety, Personal Injury

Leading Case

Updated: 10 November 2021; Ref: scu.270658