Although at common law a master was not liable for injury sustained by his servant caused through the negligence of a fellow-servant, it was his duty to select competent persons as fellow-servants, and, moreover, there was an implied contract that he would be guilty of no personal negligence towards his servants or workmen, and would supply them with adequate materials and premises reasonably safe for the work upon which they were engaged. And there was an implied contract upon the part of the servant that he would run all ordinary risks arising from the nature of his employment and the regulations under which it was carried on.
The Employers' Liability Act only applied to injuries caused to workmen who had not been guilty of contributory negligence, the word workmen being used in the ordinary sense of the word-that is to say, as referring to people engaged in manual labour, including female mechanics, but excluding domestic and menial servants. And there was nothing to prevent the workman, although a minor, from contracting himself out of the benefit of the Act.
All this has been altered by the Act of
1906, which came into operation on July 1,
1907, which makes every employer liable to compensate any of his workmen for personal injury arising out of and in the course of his employment-clerks, shop assistants, and domestic servants all being included under the title of workman, which is defined as "any person who has entered into or works under a contract of service or apprenticeship with an employer, whether by way of manual labour, clerical work, or otherwise, and whether the contract is expressed or implied, is oral or in writing." If the injured workman dies, the term includes his legal personal representative or his dependants or other person for whose benefit compensation is payable.
Dependants mean such members of the workman's family as were wholly or in part dependent upon his earnings at the time of his death, or would have been so dependent had he not have been rendered incapable by the accident. Illegitimate children and grandchildren of an injured workman or servant, and the parents and grandparents of an injured workman who is himself illegitimate, are included among the dependants entitled to compensation.