Law - Health and Safety for Beginners

NEBOSH Certificate
Case Law
John Johnston AIIRSM
• This presentation highlights the case
law that NEBOSH certificate students
should be aware of.
• The cases are central to understanding
certain legal principles and by being
aware of the facts of these cases, you
will be able to apply them in your
examinations to give full and informed
• The slides also have notes added with
further information on the cases.
Donoghue v. Stevenson (1932)
Duty of Care – Neighbour Principle
• Negligence.
• Whether duty owed to person injured.
• Duty of manufacturer of article to
ultimate consumer.
• Bottle of ginger beer bought from
• Bottle containing dead snail.
• Purchaser poisoned by drinking
• Liability of manufacturer to consumer.
Edwards v National Coal Board (1949)
Reasonably Practicable – ‘the Quantum of Risk’
• The balance of cost, time and trouble.
• Mr Edwards was killed when an unsupported
section of a travelling road in a mine gave way.
Only about half the whole length of the road
was shored up. The company argued that the
cost of shoring up all roads in every mine was
prohibitive when compared to the risk.
• “so far as is reasonably practicable” means
that the degree of risk needs to be balanced
against the time, trouble and cost involved in
taking the necessary measures to avoid the
Wilsons & Clyde Coal Co. Ltd v English
Employers’ Common Law Duty of Care (Employers’ Liability)
• The employers were held liable for injuries to a
miner as a result of an unsafe system of
• The House of Lords held that the employer
owes a duty of care to his employee:
• Safe place of work.
• Safe equipment.
• Safe system of work.
• Provision of competent staff and effective
Wilsons & Clyde Coal Co. Ltd v English
Employers’ Common Law Duty of Care (Employers’ Liability)
• These duties were owed personally
by the employer to each employee
and were non-delegable –
• The performance of the duties
could be delegated, but the
responsibility for them could not.
Marshall v Gotham Co Ltd [1954]
So far as is practicable
• The employer was not liable for a breach of
statutory duty because Marshall’s death had
not been caused by any failure by them to take
reasonable steps to secure the roof.
• Comparison of ‘practicable’ and ‘reasonably
practicable’ precautions.
• Generally interpreted to mean that whatever is
technically possible in the light of current
knowledge must be carried out.
• The cost, time and trouble are NOT to be taken
into account when arriving at a decision.
Mersey Docks & Harbour Board v. Coggins &
Griffiths (Liverpool) Ltd. [1947]
Vicarious Liability
• Master/servant relationship –
persons who must be protected.
• The test:
• “Who had the authority to direct or
delegate to the workman the
manner in which the vehicle was
With thanks to Safetyphoto
Don’t forget to read the
notes in this
presentation for
additional information
on each case.

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