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Griffiths v Vauxhall Motors Limited, Court of Appeal

18 March 2003
The issues

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 – Risk Assessment – contributory negligence – Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

The facts

The Claimant fractured his left hand when a gun fitting seatbelt bolt brackets to car body shells kicked back. This had happened in the past and the Defendant had been put on notice. After the accident, when the equipment was referred to he manufacturer, it was found that the kickback occurred because the triggering had been miss-aligned and that the equipment was working within its operative parameters. No Risk Assessment had been carried out by the Defendant. The Recorder found:-

(i) That there was no inherent defect in the equipment and no breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998;

(ii) That the Defendant should have carried out a Risk Assessment before the accident under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 and that the fact that no Risk Assessment had been carried out, gave rise to a risk of injury to the Claimant;

(iii) That the Claimant was experienced and had complained of kickback in the past and had contributed to the accident by not holding the gun with care. The Claimant’s damages were therefore reduced by 50%.

The Claimant and Defendant appealed.

The decision

1. Regulations 4 and 5 of the 1998 Regulations dealt with the physical condition of the equipment. Regulations 8 and 9 dealt with training. In dealing with Regulations 4 and 5 the Recorder was right in finding that there was no breach. Work equipment was not to be regarded as unsuitable for the purpose of the 1998 Regulations when injury results from in adequate control of mis-handling of equipment by an employee.

2. A Risk Assessment would on a balance of probabilities have identified the risk of injury. That would have given rise to the Claimant being given warning and instruction. If that had happened, it was more likely than not that the accident would not have happened.

3. The Judgment as to contributory negligence would not be interfered with.

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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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