POA Circulars

16 | 15.03.2016

Second Hand Smoke exposure and Personal Injury claims

Since announcing in POA Circular 7/2016 that a timetable has been produced by NOMS for introducing cessation of tobacco smoking in prisons, the National Executive wish to remind members about the evidence required to pursue a successful personal injury claim relating to second hand smoke (SHS) exposure at work.

The aim of the POA is to protect the interests of members in relation to SHS exposure at work until such time as a smoke free prison estate is introduced.

For a successful SHS personal injury compensation claim it is necessary to prove:

  • Exposure to SHS at work in doses is sufficient to create a reasonably foreseeable risk of injury.
  • The Employer failed to take reasonable steps to minimise or eliminate the risk of injury and/or failed to comply with PS1/9/2007.
  • Expert medical evidence to prove on a balance of probabilities that SHS exposure at work has caused a disabling illness or disease. (The fact of exposure to SHS at work alone is not enough to bring a claim).
  • The claim must be commenced in Court within 3 years from being diagnosed with a disabling illness which the member has reason to believe was caused by SHS exposure at work.

Members who are concerned about SHS exposure at work must ensure that they comply with POA policy by reporting each and every incident of exposure as set out in POA Circular 157/2011. This includes:

  • Make an entry in the accident book on each and every occasion.
  • Record each incident as a “near miss” using the RIVO system.
  • Report all incidents to the Governor and Occupational Health using the forms in POA Circular 157/2011.
  • Bring an individual grievance citing SHS exposure and the employer’s failure to comply with PS1/9/2007.

It is vital that all members are vigilant in reporting details of every incident of SHS exposure. Only by generating this body of evidence will it be possible to support personal injury claims for individual members who suffer illness as a result of SHS at work.

Please draw the contents of this circular to all your members and advise them to follow these procedures to the letter to maximise the potential success of any claim.

Yours sincerely



General Secretary