A recent decision of the UK Supreme Court has confirmed the position that employers will not be liable for exposing workers to noise levels below 90 decibels, if the exposure took place before the risks became generally known (around 1990).
The Supreme Court also held that the duty under the Factories Act 1961 to ensure (so far as is reasonably practicable) that the workplace is safe does not mean that employers can be held liable for dangers which were not known to be dangers at the time of exposure.
The Factories Act has now been repealed but is still relevant in disease cases. The decision of the Supreme Court is binding in Scotland and it will be interesting to see whether it makes it more difficult for claimants to establish liability in cases of industrial deafness, vibration white finger or asbestos.
On May 12, 2011