Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Accidents and injuries

Some important cases have come before the tribunals and courts recently regarding accident and injury.

In one, the claimant, who had suffered an injury that had left him deaf and depressed to the point that he had 770 days off - nearly three out of four and a half years - claimed discrimination on grounds of disability when he was dismissed. He did not win.

The view taken was that the employer had "tried all reasonable means of getting the claimant back to work". There is not an obligation to maintain a disabled person in a job which he or she cannot do despite all the efforts of the employer to offer support and make reasonable adjustments.

However, a worker who fell from a bunk because the ladder to the deck was not secured did succeed in a claim for negligence. The House of Lords ruled that, in providing equipment, an employer must take into account the possibility that people will be careless. This does not mean assuming that all employees are idiots, but that sometimes they may have a lapse of concentration. Safe equipment and safe working practices (for example for technicians in workshops) which are rigorously enforced are essential to avoid a claim.

There is a tendency for courts to regard sports injuries as accidents. However, in a recent case, a school played a pupil below his age group in a rugby game. A pupil from the other school attempted to tackle him and was injured. Despite the fact that the local rugby association allowed for players to play down a year and that the older player was not grossly larger, the court found for the claimant. The view that was taken was that an older child, regardless of height and weight, is physically more mature.

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