Health and safety in the workplace must be taken seriously and a failure to do so can have severe consequences. In one case, a car repair shop manager’s woefully inadequate performance in that respect meant that he was entitled to zero compensation, notwithstanding his unfair dismissal.
The man had worked for the same company for more than 40 years and its takeover by another car dealership had come as a culture shock. An inspection revealed that he had allowed a stockpile of 400 potentially explosive vehicle airbags to build up in the workshop. Following an internal investigation, he was summarily dismissed for gross misconduct.
In upholding his unfair dismissal claim, an Employment Tribunal (ET) found that the investigation had been inadequate in several respects and that there was no proven basis for the employer’s conclusion that his actions had caused financial loss or that the storage of so many airbags had posed an immediate danger to life.
However, in reducing his compensation by 100 per cent, the ET found that the man’s handling of the airbags issue was seriously incompetent and that, even had the disciplinary process been a fair one, he would inevitably have been dismissed. His blameworthy and culpable failure to get on top of an important health and safety issue meant that that he was, in truth, the author of his own misfortune.