What is work equipment ?

The House of Lords has refused leave to appeal the Court of Appeal decision in Hammond -v- Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis (2004) EWCA CIV 830 (reported in July 2004 Law Bulletin.)

In this case, the Court of Appeal rejected that a bolt, which gave way on a vehicle the claimant was repairing, could be said to be work equipment. The Court of Appeal had found that work equipment should loosely be found to be a tool of the trade and not part of the object being worked upon. The House of Lords stated they did not think the point was of general public interest and declined leave to appeal.

Car park barrier drops on head

A nurse was wheeling a patient from a hospital to a car. The footpaths were blocked by double parked cars, so she crossed the car park and went under an automatic car park barrier that was in the up position. As she went beneath it the barrier fell on her head.

The Judge found the defendant had failed to organise a safe traffic route to enable employees to circulate safely, under the Workplace Regulation 17, and had failed to notify by way of proper signs the risk of the barrier coming down. The warning signal had previously been removed from the car park barrier due to complaints from neighbours and hospital residents about the noise but when that had been done there was an even higher need for signs. It was also reasonable to fit sensors to the barrier to prevent it coming down onto pedestrians – a step which had been taken after the accident.

Marlene Scott -v- The Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust, 23 March 2005, Newcastle Upon Tyne County Court.

Highway Tripping cases

Missing paving stones

Two large York paving stones were missing from a pavement. The Judge found that that made the pavement dangerous for the purposes of the Highways Act . Defendants Leeds County Council accepted this was a danger they would rate as a category 1 defect to be repaired within 24 hours of a report. The main conflict was whether the claimant had made a report of the defect nine days before the accident as she said. The call centre that took such calls had no record of a call. The claimant had a witness who had watched her make the call from a phone booth as her phone at home was not working. It was possible, however, that she had called the Highways Department directly rather than the relevant call centre and the Judge found on the evidence that such a call had been made and that the defendant had not responded and therefore not made a defence under section 58 (2) (b) of the Highways Act.

Judgement for the claimant.

Galilee -v- Leeds City Council, HHJ Behrens, 5 April 2005, Leeds County Court.

Not that drunk

The claimant tripped over a flagstone protruding about one and a half inches above the adjacent flag stones. Liverpool County Council first said it was not part of their adopted highway and also that the claimant was drunk. After an order that the council produce documents relating to the ownership and maintenance of the area, they admitted responsibility for the maintenance of the area but denied liability. At trial it was found they had breached the Highways Act.

The Judge found, despite a medical record that the claimant had been drinking alcohol prior to the accident, that this was not the cause of his fall and found for him.

There was one third contributory negligence as he had fallen in broad daylight when the defect was visible.

Harrison -v- Liverpool CC

Three-year problem

Thompsons' Leeds office has also won a tripping case where a witness for the claimant said she had made several complaints about the state of the pavement before the accident but not been put through to the right department and that the pavement had been in a similar state for three years or more.

The Judge accepted the photos showed the pavement in a state where the defect was actionable and no section 58 defence had been made out.