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Paris v Stepney Borough Council, [1950] UKHL 3 (Link)


Paris, who had only one eye, served as a garage-hand. He was hitting bolts, when a piece of metal pierced his good eye, rendering Paris completely blind.

At trial: standard of care required in duty to worker was breached because of Paris' specific circumstances (having one eye).
On appeal: standard of care was not breached; circumstance of the individual (having one-eye) is irrelevant.


Did the employer meet the necessary standard of care when it did not provide goggles to Paris?


Employers have a duty to take reasonable care for worker safety with particular regard to each of their employees’ circumstances.


Duty of an employer towards his servant is to take reasonable care for the servant’s safety in all the circumstances of the case.
** Having one eye is a circumstances in determining precautions

The standard of care is that which an ordinarily prudent employer would take in all the circumstances. In this case:
** Would a reasonable employer supply goggles to a one-eyed workman whose job is to knock bolts out of a chassis with a steel hammer where the chassis is elevated on a ramp at eye level? Yes.
** Must weigh the risk of injury and the extent of the damage in deciding what a reasonable employer would do.

** The duty depends on the occupation: If the occupation is more dangerous, there is more duty of care. The more serious the damage if an accident occurs, the more precautions must be taken.
** In this case, if there is no duty to provide goggles for two-eyed workers, there should not be a duty to provide them to one-eyed workers.
*** 1. The employer was not negligent it not providing goggles to all workers. It was not commonly done; therefore reasonable person/employer test applies;
*** 2 The risk of eye injury to anyone was remote.


Appeal allowed. Judgement in favour Paris.

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