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Horton v Taplin Contracts Ltd, Court of Appeal, 8 November 2002

14 November 2002
The issues

Assault – equipment – scaffolding – intervening act – Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations.

The facts

The Claimant was a Carpenter employed by the Defendant. He was using a scaffolding tower. It had guard rails on some but not all sides and there were no stabilisers or outriggers. He had a row with a colleague who toppled the tower over deliberately, causing the Claimant serious injuries. The Claimant alleged that the Defendant had been negligent in breaching Regulation 5 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1992, Regulation 20 of the 1992 Regulations, and Regulation 5 of the Construction (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1996.

The Claimant’s claim was dismissed and the Claimant Appealed.

The decision

1. The working of the Regulations when taken together were such that suitability of purpose was to be seen by reference to hazards to health and safety that were reasonably foreseeable.

2. The co-worker’s behaviour was not reasonably foreseeable. There had been therefore no breach of Regulation 5 of the 1992 Regulations.

3. The obligation under Regulation 20 arose when stability was necessary for the purposes of health and safety. Again, the mischief to be guarded against had reasonably to be foreseen. The Recorder had been right in finding that it was not foreseeable that the equipment would be used in the way it had been by the Claimant’s colleague. There was therefore no breach of Regulation 5 of the 1996 Regulations.

4. Even if there had been a breach, it could not be said that the breach was causative of the accident. The Claimant had not established that stabilisers or outriggers would have stopped the tower from falling over.

5. Moreover, even if there had been breaches and the breaches had been seen as causative, the behaviour of the colleague amounted to a new intervening act, which was sufficient to break the chain of causation.

Appeal dismissed.

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The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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