Firefighters strike puts onus on employers to protect staff

Employers will have to take adequate risk assessments to ensure that they do not leave themselves open to personal injury claims if the planned firefighters strike goes ahead

In situations where someone is injured as a result of the firefighters strike, most claimants would attempt to bring a claim against their employers.

“An employer has a duty at all times to consider risk of employers and also those that are not an employer,” said Anthony Cherry, a partner at Beachcroft Wansbroughs.

Employers must ensure they have carried out a risk assessment in light of the impending strike to ensure they have taken any reasonable steps necessary to prevent injury occurring on their premises.

Barlow Lyde & Gilbert partner John Goodman said: “If an employer takes a blasé, head-in-the-sand approach then it could lead to a claim.”

However, bringing such a claim may not be easy. Pattinson & Brewer partner Frances McCarthy said: “It's a very tricky one to deal with in the abstract, as there are so many possible scenarios.”

A claimant would have to prove that there were reasonable steps an employer could have taken that would have then prevented the injury from occurring.

One thing seems more certain – it is unlikely that the Fire Brigades Union would face any possible action from individuals or from businesses. Goodman said: “Broadly speaking, a claimant would have to prove that they [the emergency services] made the situation worse by a positive action.” Failure to attend an emergency does not make the emergency services liable for any damage.