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Law Bulletin - December 2006

Fire fighters: failure to train in use of rescue equipment [Liability]

The claimant was a fire fighter. He took over a rescue attempt from another fire service, which was using a power ram to straighten a lorry cab that had a trapped and critically injured driver inside.

Contractors can have duty of care to sub-contractor employees [Liability]

In certain circumstances an independent contractor can owe a duty of care to employees of its sub-contractors.

Insurers not liable for abuse by company directors in children’s care homes [Liability]

Child abuse had been committed in a children’s care home by directors of the company, heads of the home and employees. The insurance policy specifically excluded liability for acts by persons to be regarded as in effect “the company” as opposed to mere employees.

Manual handling: defendant must prove avoiding handling not reasonably practicable [Liability]

The claimant worked in a warehouse for Goulds where he injured his back lifting a 17kg roll of plastic pallet wrap from a pallet onto a machine on the shop floor. The employer’s defence was that they had done a risk assessment and provided adequate training.

Work equipment: failure to guard [Liability]

The claimant was planing on a machine with a guard missing and lost fingertips. The defendants said the machine was regularly inspected and passed as safe to use without a guard. They denied liability throughout. They argued there was no other way to carry out the job in hand and the risk was reduced to a minimum.

Do not take inspection records at face value [Liability]

The claimant tripped in the road. He went back a couple of days later with his shop steward to take photos of the defect.

Leisure Accidents: skiing – binding law [Liability]

The claimant was a teacher on a school trip who fell while skiing downhill. Her left ski failed to release and she sustained a fracture to her tibia. The defendant was the tour organiser.

Bowling Lanes: struck out [Liability]

The claimant slipped on a bowling lane. She said there was oil on the floor. Oiling machines are used at bowling lanes but the defendant gave good evidence that the machine used to oil the bowling lanes is programmed to stop eight inches away from the foul line.