The House of Lords has held that an employer was not strictly liable for an injury sustained by one of its employees due to a defective ramp at a private dwelling (Smith v Northamptonshire County Council). The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations impose strict liability on all employers to ensure that work equipment is maintained in an efficient state and is in efficient working order and good repair. The claimant's duties involved collecting people from their homes and taking them by mini bus to a day centre. She was injured as a wheelchair ramp at a client's home gave way when she was wheeling the client down it. The House of Lords found that the ramp was not incorporated into or adopted as part of the Council's undertaking because the Council did not provide it, own it, possess it or have any responsibility or right to repair it. The Council was therefore not liable for the employee's injury. This decision is good news for employers whose staff visit external sites and use equipment outside the employer's control in the course of their duties. However employers should not assume that they will never be liable for events that take place outside work. They have duties under health and safety legislation to make risk assessments. Had the Council not undertaken a satisfactory inspection of the ramp or if it had identified the defect but not taken action, it could have faced claims under Health and Safety at Work legislation and for negligence.
- How-to guide How-to guide: How to investigate workplace harassment complaints (UK) Recently updated
- Checklist Checklist: Obtaining EB-1 visas for priority workers and persons of extraordinary ability (USA) Recently updated
- How-to guide How-to guide: How to prepare for a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement I-9 audit (USA) Recently updated