The claimant was a refuse collector who wore new steel-cap safety boots during his shift. They were uncomfortable and by the end of the day his left foot was severely inflamed and swollen.

We argued that the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 applied.

Under PPE Regulation 4, the boots also had to be suitable for their purpose and that included fitting the wearer correctly. Although an investigation after the accident had not uncovered the specific defect in the boot that had caused injury, the employer had a duty to more than just supply a pair of boots and should have ensured that they fitted properly.

It seemed obvious that there was some defect, given the link in time between the supply of new boots and the injury. Thus there was a breach of Regulation 4 PPE.

This was in spite of the defendant’s attempt to cite the case of House of Lords’ ruling in a case called Fytche v Wincanton Logistics where a boot was held still to serve its protective function even when it did not protect the wearer from another injury.

The Claimant should have reported the boots did not fit a soon as he realised that.

This amounted to contributory negligence of 50 per cent. 

Newcastle-Upon-Tyne County Court, 10 November 2008.