Employers’ liability upon slips, trips and injuries occurred at work place
An employer is under a legal duty to take reasonable care of his employees’ health and safety in the course of their employment. The reasonable care may include providing health checks where employees are engaged in hazardous work, equipment to protect employees from injury, and medical equipment in order to mitigate the effects of any injury. Employer’s duty of care extends beyond physical safety and also includes reasonable care to prevent psychiatric injury, workplace stress and suicide as well.
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What is on this page?
- Introduction to employers’ liability
- Employer’s obligations
- Competent Staff
- Adequate plant and equipment;
- A safe system of work; and
- Safe premises
- Common examples of employers’ liability
- What would you do next?
An employer owes a non-delegable duty of care to their employees (not to cause harm or injury) and may be held “personally” liable for the harm caused to employees. An employer may also be held liable, where he does not comply with the obligations imposed by law on him and causes a loss to an employee. An employer may also be held liable vicariously for injuries caused by their “Employees to others including clients and colleagues”.The employer is also under a legal obligation to provide
- competent staff;
- adequate plant and equipment;
- a safe system of work; and
- safe premises.
The staff employed by the employer must be competent for the job he is employed for. An employer will be vicariously liable for the negligence of an employee which may have caused an accident and an injury to fellow employees.
Misbehaviour of employee
The misbehaviour of an employee, provided known by the employer and where the employer has failed to prevent the misbehaviour or failed to remove the source of misbehaviour, in these cases the injured employee can sue both the employer and the misbehaving employee.
Adequate plant and equipment
Accidents generally occur either because no plant or equipment is provided, or because inadequate equipment is provided. For example, if an employee suffers injuries falling from a makeshift means of gaining access to high shelves, the employer will be liable if no ladder has been provided for this purpose.
‘Plant’ simply means anything used in the course of work. It will include everything from large and complicated machinery (eg, a paper mill) to the most basic equipment (eg, an office chair).
The employer is under a legal duty to take all necessary and reasonable steps in order to provide and maintain adequate equipment and avoid any injury to employees
A common example could be an office swivel chair which gives way under an employee, the employer could be held liable for his failure to maintain the chair, or for having inadequate provision for maintenance of the chair or renewal. It is important to note that the employer will also be vicariously liable if employees fail to maintain or repair such plant or equipment despite the fact that the employer has provided adequate plant and machinery.
Safe Work and System
An employer is also under a duty to provide safe work and systems to his employees. Safe work and system may include
- the physical layout of the plant;
- the method by which work is carried out;
- the sequence in which work is to be carried out;
- the provision of instructions;
- the taking of any safety precautions;
- the provision of proper warnings and notices
An employer’s duty to take reasonable care of his employees further extends to the premises including third party premises used by the employees to perform their duties. The law requires these premises to be reasonably safe and fit for the purpose. Most slipping and tripping cases are caused by unsafe premises.
Common examples of employers’ liability
- Alan a factory worker is seriously injured when a piece of metal breaks off the machine he is using and hits him in the head.
- Steve while working in a fast food restaurant accidentally slipped on a pool of grease, which was caused by a poorly maintained fryer and broke his arm.
- Danial is subject to a sustained period of homophobic harassment and intimidation by his area manager.
- Barry a client of Fresco has been defrauded by an employee who has now left Fresco.
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What would you do next?
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