Thompsons’ Workplace slipping case upheld

A firefighter slipped when doing physical training in the fire appliance room. Two other firefighters noticed a fine coating of dust on the floor. It was alleged breaches of Reg’12 (3) of the Workplace Regs and Reg 5(1) applied.

The defendant said they had done everything reasonably practicable under Reg 12 (3), by having a weekly thorough clean in the appliance room and inspecting and sweeping the room before exercises. It had been six days since the last thorough clean.

The Judge found it would have been reasonably practicable to remove dust from the floor by having a “damp mopping” before exercise and found for the claimant.

The Court of Appeal said the Judge was entitled to make that conclusion on the facts and upheld the claimant’s case.

He was awarded £100,000 for a serious knee injury.

Bassie -v- Merseyside Fire and Civil Defence Authority (2005)

Work equipment appeal to the House of Lords withdrawn

You may recall the bus driver,  who was assaulted by a customer. He alleged the absence of a screen to protect him from assaults was a breach of Reg 5(3) and 5(4) of the PUWER Regs.

The Court of Appeal rejected the argument that the absence of a screen created a breach of the condition that equipment (the bus) be suitable and sufficient for the purpose for which it is used.

The claimant withdrew their appeal to the House of Lords on 21 November 2005.

Searby v Yorkshire Traction Ltd , 2003 EWCA Civ 1856

HAVS case

The Court of Appeal held that not every piece of evidence had to fit “the jigsaw” for a claim to succeed on a balance of probabilities in a HAVS claim.

Here the claimant had shown “textbook” HAVS in his description of symptoms to the medical experts but had added a symptom of “blotchiness” at trial  which . His expert had withdrawn his support at trial having heard this description and agreed with the defendant expert this was not a HAVS injury.


(1) The diagnosis of HAVS often gave rise to difficulty. There was no test that could prove whether or not a claimant did in fact suffer from such intermittent episodic symptoms. The doctor was dependent on the claimant's description of his symptoms and that in turn was dependent on the perception of the claimant and his use of language. The vascular symptoms of episodic whiteness and numbness could occur naturally as could the sensorineural and musculoskeletal symptoms.

(2) The Judge had not been bound to accept the doctor’s opinion. All issues of credibility were for the judge. If what a witness said was ambiguous or its interpretation was in doubt, it was for the Judge to decide upon the correct interpretation. The Judge had been justified in interpreting W's evidence as he had done, differently from the doctors. The Judge had been entitled to take the view that, when W said that his hands were blotchy, he was describing their appearance before any changes due to the attack had begun. On that interpretation of his evidence, the Judge had been entitled to say that the blotchy appearance was not inconsistent with the diagnosis of HAVS.

(3) Even if the Judge had not been entitled to interpret W's evidence as he had, he would have been entitled on the balance of probabilities, on the totality of the evidence, to have concluded that W was suffering from HAVS

Whalley -v- Montracon Ltd EWCA Civ 1383.