We continue to run into Hammond as a ground for denial in work equipment cases. Below are two examples of how this still happens.
Bait box under table
The claimant was a pest control officer for the local council. He went to a school to remove some bait boxes he had put down on a previous visit. One bait box was under a table. As he took it back he cut his hand on a sharp object on the underside of the table.
The court found the sharp protrusion must have been present on the table when it was installed a year before the accident – under PUWER 1998 the court found there could be no case following Hammond as the table was not the claimant’s work equipment.
Under the Employers Liability (Defective Equipment) Act, the claimant failed as no fault could be proved on behalf of the manufacturer of the table so no liability could be attached to the employer in these circumstances.
However the claimant succeeded under the Occupiers Liability Act against the school. The court found it was reasonable to expect the defendant to undertake an inspection at the time when the table was installed to determine whether it was safe. There was a shelf under the table on which various kitchen equipment was designed to be stored. So it was foreseeable that kitchen staff and visitors such as the claimant would place a hand near the shelf. An inspection and check of the table before it was installed would have been reasonable and would have prevented the accident.
The claimant therefore lost in its claim against the defendant as the employer and won against them as an occupier.
Keith Whiston -v- Solihull MBC. Birmingham County Court, 26 June 2006