Householder not liable for plumber’s injury during extension work, judge rules.

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The judge said national regulations introduced in 2013 require householders to appoint a project supervisor to draw up a health and safety plan for all working on the site.  The householder was in breach of a duty in not appointing a project supervisor for health and safety when he got an extension built to his home, a High Court judge ruled.  However, homeowner was not liable for an injury caused to a worker when a steel nail on a pipe nail clip sprang back and hit his eye as he tried to nail it into a wall.  The judge dismissed the action taken by the plumber.  The plumber claimed, among other things, that the homeowner failed to provide him with a safe environment and system of work, failed to appoint a project supervisor and failed to provide appropriate safety equipment in the form of goggles. The plumber claimed he was a de facto employee of the homeowner.  The homeowner denied the claims and said the plumber was working as an independent contractor who held himself out as an experienced plumber with the appropriate expertise and equipment. He also claimed the accident was caused by the plumbers’ own negligence and other failings.  The plumber was working under a worktop in the utility room fixing a pipe to the concrete wall with a plastic clip and steel nail. Although he had goggles in his van he was not wearing them and had never done so to affix a pipe clip to a wall.  When he struck the nail with a hammer, it sprang back hitting him in the right eye.  Mr Justice Keane said national regulations introduced in 2013 require householders to appoint a project supervisor to draw up a health and safety plan for all working on the site. While not required for DIY projects or one-off small jobs, it is required where construction lasts longer than 30 days or 500 “person days” (number of days the work takes multiplied by the number of people doing the work).  The homeowner breached his duty to appoint a project supervisor, that did not cause the plumbers accident, the judge said.  The homeowners was also not the plumbers employer and did not owe him a statutory duty.  For those reasons, the claim could not succeed, and he dismissed the case.