Is it sufficient for employers to follow industrial wide practices for employee safety measures?
Compliance with industrial standards is taken into consideration. This is because in most situations, the prevalent standards set the bar that an employer has to meet, and are thus relevant in determining the standard of care expected of the employer. For instance, if every excavation company in Singapore provides helmets for their employees, you can be almost certain that not providing such equipment, resulting in personal injuries caused to an employee, will invite liability to the employer.
The general principle is that an employer is expected to adhere to a practice that has been followed for a substantial period of time in similar circumstances without mishap. However, this does not mean that the defendant absolves himself of all liabilities if he adheres to these practices. The court many still find the defendant liable if the practice is undesirable and the defendant is expected to apply new and developing knowledge to ensure his employees’ safety.
Henceforth, we can draw the inference that adhering to industrial standards or common place practice is inconclusive to determine if the defendant owes a duty of care to the plaintiff. Instead, industrial standards and common place practices are taken only as a reference guide by the court in order to determine if the duty of care undertaken is reasonable enough. Should it be lacking, or undesirable, the courts may still impose a finding of negligence.
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