In this case, a fast food outlet, KFC Limited were successfully prosecuted under Section 2 of the Health & Safety at Work Act for failing to take reasonable steps to protect employees from risks arising from injury, assault and robbery by persons visiting the shop premises.

The defendants were unable to prove* to the satisfaction of the Magistrates that suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk of violence to employees had been undertaken either annually under their own provisions, or following each incident.

(*) Unusually in English law, in Health and Safety cases, the onus is on the defendant employer to prove that they had taken all reasonable and practical steps to eliminate or minimise the risk of harm happening.

The magistrates decided that, given the history of violent incidents, if a suitable and sufficient assessment been carried out, it would have identified that staff in these premises were especially at risk from aggressive members of the public gaining access to staff and assaulting them; and, if such an assessment had taken place, it would have highlighted a need for the company to have taken reasonable steps (in the form of deep counters and glass screens), to prevent the later incidents of violence.

The defendants had failed to take into account evidence that was at their disposal in respect of the occurrence of more significant incidents and a diary held by the Branch Manager in which details of lesser incidents were noted.

In addition, the defendants had failed to report to the EHO a physical injury sustained by their employee, which incapacitated them for more than three consecutive days – a breach of RIDDOR.