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Health & Safety Cases
Two cases of Amputation following breaches of safety legislation
Case 1: Heshmatollah Khezri, a former director of Bamboo Ltd, has been fined £8,000 with costs of £18,740, following a HSE investigation into an accident in June 2003. No risk assessments were carried out, proper training had not been given and machine attachments were missing when Raffaele de Ninno lost two fingers while operating an electric saw. Judge Simpson found that, as a director of the company at the time of the incident, Mr Khezri was responsible for employees’ health & safety and had put their welfare at risk.
Case 2: In May 2005 Milton Pipes Ltd were fined £3,300 following an investigation into an incident that resulted in an employee losing his right index finger. Richard Chapman was operating a faulty steel rod machine in November 2004 when his glove caught on a rod and his hand was drawn through the unguarded bending head mechanism. The piece of machinery had been faulty since 1998 and resulted in Milton Pipes being found guilty of breaching regulation 11 (1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations. Under regulation 11 employers are required to provide fixed guards for dangerous parts of machinery, or to provide protection devices, or provide information, instruction, training and supervision for users.
Stress – a serious issue in the UK workplace
Case 3: Mark Hone, a licensed house manager who started work for Six Continents Retail Ltd in their Moat House in Luton, subsequently refused to opt-out of working more than 48 hours a week as laid down by the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR). He kept records which proved that he was working between 82 and 92 hours a week. He complained about the excessive hours to his employer who seemed to accept that an assistant manager was needed, but no action was taken. He eventually collapsed with a psychiatric illness and brought a claim in negligence against his employer, Six Continents Retail Ltd. They appealed arguing that Mr Hone had no previous history of mental illness, had not taken any time off for stress, and had not informed anyone that his health was being affected by his workload. Therefore, his illness was not reasonably foreseeable. The Court of Appeal rejected the appeal, referring to the records which proved that he was working long hours and his complaint in this regard.
The Court of Appeal also accepted that the employer’s opt-out of the 48 hour working week was relevant to whether the manager’s illness was reasonably foreseeable.
Mr Hone won his case and was awarded £21,840 damages for psychiatric injury caused by stress at work.
This case demonstrates that employers must honour the working time rules or their failure to do so will fuel their exposure to stress related claims.