These days, health and safety issues are important considerations for the management of most firms and the potential ramifications of failing to adopt robust health and safety policies are now well known.
However, a recent case has indicated that failure to carry out a risk assessment may not necessarily prove the contention that appropriate steps were not taken to make a procedure safe. Only if it can be shown that the employer did not take steps to make the risk associated with the operation of the procedure as low as practicable can the causal link necessary in order to make the employer liable for an injury to an employee be established. This does not necessarily mean that a formal risk assessment has to be available for the particular operation which gave rise to the injury. Also, merely breaching the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 is not in itself sufficient, as to establish liability under statute law the breach must be shown to have caused the injury.
In the case in point, an employee was injured when carrying out a mechanical handling operation. The employer successfully argued the risk assessment point in the Court of Appeal. However, the evidence in this instance showed that the employer had failed to take appropriate steps to make the operation safe and so the employer was found liable for the injury to the employee.
“Whilst not having evidence of a formal risk assessment will not of itself undermine an employer’s defence against a claim that insufficient steps have been taken to minimise the risk of injury, carrying one out is the best way of identifying what needs to be done to protect the health and safety of employees,” says <<CONTACT DETAILS>>. “We can advise you on any aspect of health and safety at work.”
Parr v Gravatom Engineering Systems Ltd.  EWCA 967.