This case raised the issue of whether an employer is liable for the irresponsible acts of those within its employment or on its premises.
The deceased was not an employee of the defendant, but rather a friend of another employee who intermittently visited the premises of the employer. During one of these visits, the deceased accessed a pitch roof via a window, which he fell through causing fatal injuries.
The company was charged under section 3 of the Heath and Safety at Work Act 1974 for having exposed the deceased to a risk to his safety by failing to control his attendance on the premises that day or otherwise restrict his access to the roof. The Defendant argued that the risk in was the type of everyday risk that the Court of Appeal concluded should not be captured by the operation of the 1974 Act (in the 2008 Porter case). That defence was accepted by Judge Russell Q.C and the defendants were acquitted.
This case illustrates that, so far as prosecutions are brought under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 are concerned, mere association with a risk is not enough. It is not enough to show that the risk arose whilst on an employer’s premises or occurred to visitors or employees involved in its undertaking. It has to be shown that the risk was brought about, to a material degree, by the way in which the employer was conducting its undertaking, as distinct from an everyday risk that would arise irrespectively.