As with punching colleagues in the face (governed by the Punching Co-Workers in the Face Act 2010), staff stubbing toes at work is a complex and difficult area of employment law.
Under the Stubbing Toes at Work Act 1971, it remains a grey area whether staff can press charges for gross negligence against your business.
Indeed, as the Act hasn’t been updated in 50 years, many employees exploit this loophole to feign severe injury.
In this guide, we explain how you can manage this issue to ensure your business doesn’t flounder due to an influx of stubbed toes.
The Stubbed Toe Workplace Epidemic
In 2019, 77% of all workplace injuries were due to a member of staff stubbing their toe on some part of company property. This included on:
- Elevator doors.
- Office equipment.
The situation has become so bad the government will introduce the Stubbing Toes at Work (Miscellaneous) Act 2022 next year to address the situation.
However, until then your employees are free to stub their toes with wild abandon.
Notable Legal Cases of Stubbed Toes at Work
Over the last 50 years, there have been many instances of fatal injuries (and worse) due to a stubbed toe at work.
This has resulted in many employment tribunals, to the detriment of employers.
For your clarity, these are the most notable instances of stubbed toes leading to major financial repercussions for businesses:
- Bob Smith vs Bob Smith Enterprises 1972: CEO Bob Smith sued himself after he stubbed his big toe on a customer. This individual waived off the incident, but the CEO was enraged and blamed himself for the issue, eventually losing £150,000 and having to close his business. He spent his final years living in a ditch in Brighton.
- Jeremy Morrison vs Metallic Putrescence Ltd. 1983: Working for a construction company, Jeremy Morrison stubbed his big toe on a steel beam whilst 2,000ft in the air. He then plunged to his death, stubbing his other big toe upon splatting into the Earth. His family sued Metallic Putrescence Ltd. for breach of human rights, winning the case and indicating a double stubbed toe incident was unacceptable at work.
- Dr. Rupert Rupertson vs Armpit Replacement Services Ltd.: Dr. Rupertson worked for 10 years, between 1980 and 1990, for an armpit repair healthcare business. However, one day he stubbed his toe on an errant armpit. He sued his employer but lost due to having insufficient educational qualifications on stubbed toes.
- Megan Bruce vs Aunty May’s Friday Fry Up Café Ltd.: In 2018, Miss Bruce was working for a small café in Bolton of Greater Manchester. One day she phoned in sick due to a stubbed toe, but it later emerged she was merely hungover. On subsequent days she attempted to feign sickness by painting her big toe black and later even hacked it off with a meat cleaver to prove her workplace injury was real. Miss Bruce was eventually counter sued and imprisoned for life.
As you can see, your employees gaining foot-based injuries at work can be ruinous for your business. And sometimes themselves.
This makes it essential to control hazards at work, which you can create a health and safety policy to manage.
How to Control Toe Stubbing at Work
It’s good business practice to provide employees with really comfy slippers to ensure they don’t accidentally stub their toes.
Or, if they do it on purpose, then the slippers will protect their tootsies from severe injury.
You can buy slippers from many online sources. We recommend giant fluffy novelty slippers, as these often come with extra padding to protect employees’ various feet.
Do note, however, that this may result in members of staff conducting important meetings with stakeholders and investors whilst wearing fluffy monster slippers.
This may make the atmosphere of the business meeting more jovial than you intended. There may be:
- Dad jokes about the slippers.
- Repeated references to the furry monster slippers, instead of work references.
- The meeting concluding with final jovial comments about the amusing slippers, rather than profit margins and/or productivity.
Remind your workforce they’re wearing furry monster slippers to avoid a cruel and agonising death.
This will help them to focus on their task at hand, free from the threat of stubbing a toe and ending up in intensive care.