Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Strict liability and employees' tools

Hard hat with a plaster on it

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulation 1998 imposes strict liability on an employer in respect of work equipment. If an employee is injured by work equipment the employer is liable.

However, in a case involving a wooden ramp at a disabled person's house which became rotten injuring a council employee, the Court of Appeal rejected the claim that the ramp was equipment provided by the employer.

The issue fundamentally was one of control. Parliament cannot have intended the employer's liability to extend to a piece of equipment that it had not installed and had no responsibility for maintaining and indeed might have been challenged had it attempted to maintain it.

However, in passing the court did suggest that where an employee brought his/her own tools on to a site, the employer would have a responsibility if they were used and the employee was injured.

It will be worth checking from time to time whether such practices have crept into use in your school or college.

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