Who is liable for the accidents of a Manager?

In a recent Scottish case, involving a Tyre Services Outlet, in which debate was had over who was liable for an accident which occurred at work, due to the actions of a manager? 

In this case, the Company in question had strict procedures in places for inflating tyres, as it was a commonly known hazard, that without proper care, the tyres could explode, causing injury to the employee and significant damage to the tyre. Tyres where to be placed in cages before inflating, apart from in extreme circumstances where the tyre was too large for the cage. In such a case, the tyre would be inflated using a longer length hose so that staff would be at a safe distance from the tyre to undertake the task at hand. 

A, a manager, was inflating a commercial tyre whilst the tyre was in a bay, leaning against a wall. The tyre was still connected at the time to a solid rim wheel. The tyre suddenly blew out part of the wheel towards A, causing injury to them by way of soft tissue damage to their leg. 

A claimed compensation, for the injury sustained. The Court held that as the Company had been clear and diligent in their application of health and safety, and had procedures in place to prevent such accidents occurring. A should have caged the tyre, as per procedure. Further documentation was provided by the company to show their diligence, by having all staff sign off, once a year that they understood what was required from them in regards to health and safety. The final damming evidence against A was that the Company produced internal safety audits, undertaken by A as a member of management which confirmed that all safety procedures were being followed. 

Whilst this Companies Health and Safety policy may have been a little over the top, having quarterly mangers audits and yearly sign offs, it enabled them to successfully argue a case which could have cost them a considerable sum of money. It demonstrates the importance of keeping up to date with your health and safety, and documenting everything when possible. 

Published: 14 May 2012

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