“Common Sense is not enough”

The case was where the Client, head chef of Bupa care home, injured himself when he failed to turn off and unplug an electrical hand-held blender from the socket and in trying to remove the blade, he accidently switched on the blender injuring his hand on the blade and sustaining nerve and tendon damage.Blender

Liability had been denied throughout the case and the Defendant’s sought to rely on the Defence of common sense and the fact that the Client was an experienced chef and should have known that the blender was to be disconnected before being handled. The case was rejected by external counsel and then taken on by in-house counsel for attendance at trial.

The Client advised that despite being the head chef, he was over worked and understaffed and despite many complaints to management, nothing was done about this. At the time of him using the blender, he was called away elsewhere and once he returned, he was too busy to check if he had unplugged the blended and simply got on with the rest of his jobs.

In addition to this, both he and member of his staff were showing signs of carbon monoxide poisoning on the basis that there were too many gas rings working and not enough ventilation in the kitchen.

The Client advised that despite being a chef , he was not provided with any training on the use of electrical equipment.

The Client gave good evidence and we had 3 witnesses for the Claimant, his colleagues, who also  came across well. The defendant witness conceded a number of points, stating she was aware of complaints by the Claimant of being understaffed, overworked etc and simply passed this information onto her managers, but accepted that nothing further was done about it as she left it in the hands of management.

Judgement

Judge found at trial that it was clear that the blender could have been held in different ways but despite the Claimant being the head chef, he had no training on how to handle this piece of equipment, which was necessary and he found a direct line of causation and held that the Defendant was liable to Claimant in failing to discharge their duty.

There was then an issue of Contributory negligence i.e where the defendants alleged that the client contributed to his injury and so some liability should be placed on him, but the Judge took a view that no contributory negligence would be attached to the Claimant.

A number of cases were placed in front of the Judge to support that simply experience and the ability to identify the requirement of work equipment was insufficient to meet the common law requirement that the employer should provide proper equipment and a safe system of work and as the client was overworked when he failed to unplug the blender before removing the blade, he had not consciously accepted the risk but rather it was a moment of inadvertence or a lapse in attention.

The client won his claim on a 100% basis and the Claimant was awarded £12,061.32.

 

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