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Review Your SQE 1 Practice Records

Examination Timing: 00H01M05S

John worked at ChemCorp Ltd, a glue manufacturing factory, for several years. Despite not handling toxic materials directly due to automation, the factory's poor ventilation caused powdered chemicals to collect as dust on his overalls. Although employees requested shower facilities, only clean overalls were provided during hot weather. John developed a debilitating skin condition, which led to him quitting his job. He believes the condition was caused by exposure to toxic chemicals at work and wants to pursue a claim against his former employer. 


Which of the following statements best reflects his position?

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At common law, an employer owes a duty to provide a safe place of work and proper and safe equipment (Wilson and Clyde Coal Co. Ltd v English [1938] AC 57). While providing clean overalls might meet the duty to provide safe equipment, failing to adequately ventilate the factory likely breaches the duty to provide a safe workplace. John must prove on the balance of probabilities that his condition was caused by his employer's negligence or that the employer materially increased the risk of him suffering from the condition (McGhee v National Coal Board [1973] 1 WLR 1). The persistence of his sensitivity since ceasing employment is irrelevant to establishing liability, as is whether other employees were similarly affected. 


Key Point: To succeed in a claim for employer’s negligence, the claimant must show that the employer failed to take reasonable care to prevent harm, resulting in the claimant’s injury.

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