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Monday, 4 April 2011

Case Law - Edwards v. National Coal Board (1949)

Case: Edwards v. National Coal Board (1949)
Precendent: Reasonably Practicable

In this case, a miner (Edwards) was killed when a section of the road on which he was travelling subsided. The section of the road concerned had no timber supports, although other sections were properly supported. The Coal Board stated that the cost of supporting all roads was prohibitive in relation to the risk. Lord Asquith, the judge in the case, said that a balance had to be struck in deciding whether it would have been reasonably practicable to have taken the precaution of providing supports for the section of road which collapsed.

The test for what is reasonably practicable was set out in this case. The case established the risk must be balanced against the 'sacrifice', whether in money, time or trouble, needed to avert or mitigate the risk. By carrying out this exercise the employer can determine what measures are reasonable to take. This is effectively an implied requirement for risk assessment.

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