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Co-ord's Stress Seminar Report No2 - 2nd November 2011

John Southwell , NW BTU Health & Safety co-ord Vice Chairperson reports on a presentation by Dominic Hemsi, Director of MPH Solicitors.

Dominic HemsiDominic specialises in personal injury claims that required forensic investigation, often involving events that happened many years ago.

A founding Director of the MPH Solicitors, he is now a recognised expert in injuries at work, fatal and serious personal injury claims, road traffic crash claims and industrial disease claims, including asbestos related diseases. His extensive experience includes claims against the Ministry of Defence for noise induced hearing loss and cases involving sporting and extreme activities, such as fitness training, abseiling and mountain rescue training.

Dominic is also a panel member of the Greater Manchester Asbestos Victims Support Group and his in-depth knowledge and interest in industrial disease and asbestos related injuries in particular has led to frequent participation in lectures and seminars on this subject.

In the North West, Dominic works with closely with the Communication Workers Union & in his opening remarks he reminded everyone that it is he who works for us! Dominic then went on to explain, using his PowerPoint presentation, about common law negligence & referred to the Hatton guidelines which state that;

  1. The employer must be able to reasonably foresee the injury before a duty of care arises. An employer can normally assume that the employee is able to cope with the normal pressures associated with work.

    However, the employer needs to take account of the nature and extent of the employee's job and any obvious signs of damage to the employee's health.

  2. It is down to the employee to show that the employer's breach of duty led to harm. Without the principle of foreseeability being satisfied, a duty of care by the employer will not be established.

  3. The employee has to show that he suffered an injury to his health that was caused by occupational stress in order to be successful.

Dominic then gave several examples of case reviews were stress was an issue & case law, the case law shows general points that are applicable to all claims for occupational stress which will be considered by the Courts in coming to their decisions:

  1. An unsympathetic management style to complaints of employees regarding occupational stress before a decision on breach of duty of care is reached.

  2. There is a duty for the employer to do something about stress being experienced once the employee has communicated their potential risk to occupational stress to the employer. This would indicate that monitoring employees known to be suffering from stress is mandatory.

  3. There is no obligation on the employee to continually remind the employer that they are having difficulties coping with their role. It is up to the employer to deal with such complaints sympathetically and to take action.

  4. Employees who are absent from work due to stress (as certified by a GP) should be taken seriously by employers and not disregarded. Employers are under an obligation to research the cause of the stress and resolve the problem.

  5. Employers should established culture that is not only sympathetic but also supportive to those employees suffering from stress.

  6. Employers have an obligation to be up to date with developments on occupational stress (as do employees to a certain extent).

Dominic then took questions from the floor & his session ended with a round of applause from all of the attendees at the seminar.

Please take part in our survey of those who attended the seminar here

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