Are your Employees Adequately Protected?
In the case of Kennedy –v- Cordia (Services) LLP, the Supreme Court reached a unanimous decision that an employer who failed to provide a home care worker with anti-slip footwear, was in breach of the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (the PPE Regulations).
Regulation 4 (1) of the PPE Regulations states that, ‘Every employer shall ensure that suitable personal protective equipment is provided to employees who may be exposed to a risk to their health of safety while at work, except where and to the extent that such risk has been adequately controlled by other means which are equally or more effective.’
In December 2010, Miss Kennedy, a home carer, slipped whilst walking to the home of an elderly client, in winter weather conditions, injuring her wrist. The pathway was covered in snow and Miss Kennedy was wearing flat boots with ridged soles.
Miss Kennedy’s employers, Cordia (Services) LLP (“Cordia”), carried out 2 risk assessments, the first in 2005 and the second in 2010. Both assessments identified that slips were a risk during bad weather and Cordia noted that in such conditions, employees should wear “appropriate footwear”. Cordia were well aware of the risk posed by slips, with 16 such accidents being reported to them in 2010. However, what constituted “appropriate footwear” was left to the judgment of the employees. Neither risk assessment considered the provision of PPE.
During the hearing, expert evidence was considered which highlighted that the measures specified in Cordia’s risk assessment, did not reduce the risks which winter weather conditions posed. These risks could have been eliminated completely by not going to clients’ houses. However, as there was a need to attend, Cordia should have chosen and supplied the appropriate footwear. Further evidence was led supporting the success of shoe ‘add ons’ and Miss Kennedy indicated that if Cordia had supplied these, she would have worn them.
This case highlights the importance of conducting a thorough risk assessment of the employee’s workplace, which will include the employee’s access to/from the principal place of work.