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Fytche v Wincanton Logistics Plc, Court of Appeal, 12 May 2003

1 July 2003
The issues

Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 – boots – fitness

The facts

The Claimant was a Heavy Goods Vehicle driver who collected milk from farms at night. He was provided with steel-cap safety boots. There was a small hole in his right boot where the steel-cap met the sole. He suffered frostbite one night in the little toe of his right foot. He claimed from his employer, alleging amongst other things, that the employer was in breach of Regulation 7(i) of the 1992 Regulations, which imposed an absolute duty on the employer to keep personal protective equipment in efficient working order and good repair. The Recorder dismissed the claim. The Judge to whom the Claimant appealed also dismissed the claim. The Claimant appealed to the Court of Appeal.

The decision

1. The Regulations were concerned with those risks in respect of which the equipment was intended to be protective. They did not impose an absolute duty on extraneous risks.

2. Where an injury had been suffered in relation to protective equipment that was not designed to protect against the injury, the Claimant had to show breach of common duty of care owed by the employer.

3. The tiny hole was undiscoverable by both employer and employee. The claim would therefore be dismissed.

Comments

Mr Justice Lindsey sitting with Lord Justices Kay and Waller dissented on the grounds that the personal protective equipment was the whole pair of boots and not just the toecap and that the failure to maintain the boots was a breach of the absolute duty in Regulation 7(i).

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