Employers Liability Essay

2842 words - 12 pages

Law of Tort
Employers Liability

Introduction

A company owes obligations to a variety of persons affected by the way in which their business is conducted. For example if a business is involved in the manufacture and distribution of materials, then duties related to dangerous products will be applicable; or if a business is involved in providing a professional service, then professional negligence principles will apply. The same kinds of principles are also relevant to the considerable body of law that is concerned with employer’s liability. Employer’s liability deals with the responsibilities of employers for torts or occupational injuries suffered by employees arising from an ...view middle of the document...

Employer’s Standard of Care

An Employer must take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of their employees. The same standard of care to be expected is that under the principles of negligence, generally, the standard is not one that is absolute but one of reasonable care. This can be clearly seen in the case of Bradley v CIE[3] where it was stated by Henchy J. that, “The law does not require an employer to ensure in all circumstances the safety of his workmen. He will discharged his duty if he done what a reasonable and prudent employer would have done in the circumstances.”
When bringing a case to court an employee must show not only that they have suffered damages, but that the damages could have been prevented if the employer had taken reasonable care in protection of their health and safety. It is not enough to merely show the existence of an injury, the plaintiff must show that the injury was foreseeable by defendant and that they had failed to act in a reasonable way. Brady v Beckmann[4] illustrates this. The plaintiff was an employee of the defendants and developed dermatitis as a result of fumes inhaled at his workplace. Evidence showed that the plants work environment was superior to that of others and the court found the
likelihood of the disease was “so unique and improbable as not to be one which could be said to have been reasonably foreseeable by his employers at the time of his employment.” therefore no liability was imposed.
The standard of care that is delivered for the safety of the employees can be divided, and looked at in four aspects: the place of work, system, equipment and the ability of staff. While there is an element of overlap among these it is a useful way to view and analyse the topic.
•Place of Work: A safe place to work must be provided by the employer for his/her employees. This obligation is concerned with the physical environment the employees find themselves in for example offices, floors, air, lighting conditions etc. In Gallagher v Mogul of Ireland Ltd [5] for example, the roof of a mine collapsed due to inadequate provisions taking by the employer to support it. This obligation is not restricted to the places directly under the control of the employer, it can also extend to places where an employee is required to go and work. The appropriate example is Dunne v Honeywell Control Systems Ltd & Virginia Milk products Ltd [6], here the plaintiff was employed as an electrical technician by the first defendant, Honeywell Ltd. He got injured in a fall when coming down a ladder on the second defendant’s premises. Both defendants were said to be at fault because one; the standards of the ladder provided were not adequate, and two; the plaintiff had to carry a heavy tool box up and down it in order to work and was not warned of the dangers of doing so. It was held by Barron J that an employer should inspect places where his/her employees will be working on a regular basis, with respect to the...

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