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R v Swan Hunter Shipbuilder and Telemeter Installations Ltd [1982] IRER 403


Provision of information



Act, Regulation or Reference:

Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, ss. 2(2)

Date: 1982


An oxygen valve in a badly ventilated part of HMS Glasgow, then under construction, had been left open. The result was that the room had then become oxygen enriched. Swan Hunter were the main contractors but several others were involved. An employee of Telemeter Installations, working alongside Swan Hunter employees was preparing to do some arc welding. He struck the electric arc between welding rod and work piece and immediately, due to the atmosphere, a very intense fire broke out and eight men were killed.

Swan Hunter's safety officer knew of the fire risk connected with oxygen and prepared a 'blue book' for Swan Hunter employees and provided the information to their employees. However, they failed to distribute this information to Telemeter and other contractors and/or the employees of those other contractors. Swan Hunter was prosecuted and fined £3000, they appealed.

The Decision

Conviction was upheld. Swan Hunter had a duty to ensure the health and safety of its own employees by the provision of information. If the ignorance of another company’s employees places its own employees at risk then it is the company’s duty, for the protection of its own employees, to inform the employees of another of any special risks within its knowledge.