I work at a big chain dog salon and I was trying to sweep up the dog hair off the floor. While I was trying to sweep away the dog's hair from this girl's station, her clippers (shaver) fell and got damaged.

She told me she would sent me a link to a clipper on sale. I went out during my shift and replaced her clipper head ($30) out of decency which I think is the only thing that is broken. I'm just thinking, if it's the full clipper and it's not the clipper head that she wants me to replace- the cost would be $250+ for which I don't have the money to replace since I'm still in college.

The groomers are required to purchase their own equipment including the clipper and it is a very expensive investment for them so it is their private property.

Any guidance on how to approach this scenario? It was an honest accident. I don't know of she had put her clippers away properly or in a safe spot either. Am I legally responsible for this accident?

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    How negligently was your colleague in where they left the clippers. Provide a lot of detail in your response. Sep 2, 2019 at 16:08
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    Work should have insurance to cover accidents like this, but this may give you some hints: workplace.stackexchange.com/q/140444/75821
    – Solar Mike
    Sep 2, 2019 at 16:13
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    Do you use private equipment? Sep 2, 2019 at 16:14
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    Welcome to The Workplace. We can't answer whether this is legal, but I think your real question is how to resolve this dispute, right? If so, could you edit the last part to focus on that? Also, could you add whether your employer supplies equipment or if you're all expected to provide your own? Thanks. Sep 2, 2019 at 16:54
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    Country tag please? I knew an immigrant from Somalia once who was afraid to touch anything expensive at work, for fear of being thrown in jail or executed for breaking something. It took us ages to convince him that the US tends to have less severe consequences! Sep 2, 2019 at 17:42

2 Answers 2


Ask your employer.

If work equipment gets damaged at the workplace while doing your work, you'll ask your employer for replacement. Your employer might be prepared for it, maybe he has a stock of spare parts or his insurance will cover it.

If your employers tells you that you have to pay for it, then you should evaluate if the costs for accidents is covered by your salary. If not, you'll need to get another job.

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    See the recent edit - it's not "work equipment" in the sense that the employer provides it or is financially responsible for it - the groomers are required to provide their own tools (much like is common in hair salons, mechanics shops, and so on). The employer will likely say "this isn't my problem."
    – dwizum
    Sep 3, 2019 at 13:07
  • @dwizum Asking your employer first is still valid in my opinion. Chances might be low depending on your region, but maybe you'll at least get advice where you can get a discount.
    – Chris
    Sep 4, 2019 at 7:26
  • I suppose, but knowing the typical scenario for trade workers who are required to provide their own equipment (barbers, hair stylists, auto mechanics, etc), an employer in this situation is likely to be confused (at best) as to why you're asking them to replace something when it's pretty clear that it's your responsibility. I get where you're coming from, but this answer just really doesn't apply to this scenario. It would be different if it was, say, an IT worker and a company owned laptop, or a field tech and a company-owned multimeter, and so on.
    – dwizum
    Sep 4, 2019 at 12:52

First concern you should have is with handling people's feelings. Legal issues are just a background for knowing what practical actions are fair or not.

Ideally, none of you should use private equipment in the workplace. If the clipper was the company's property, then the law varies by country, but you should generally not expect to pay for it unless it was damaged by gross negligence of your part. Employers need to know and prepare for accidents and not try to get their employers to pay for damages that will eventually occur. Consider the scenario where your job is to walk a bull around a heavily packed tea pottery shop. I'd bet every single day the bull would break a few items, and nobody would accept this job if it meant paying for all the damaged products. Same goes if you lose a finger when handling a machine, it's the company who should compensate your loss, unless you handled the machine recklessly.

Now, the frame changes if you broke your colleague's equipment. She should take caution to keep her items safe and be able to live with the loss of anything that's subject to be broken due to unfortunate happenings. Chances are, she's not prepared for this either.

You have started well by showing a token of good will: You've paid for something that mitigates part of the damage caused to her. But of course, a whole new item is a lot more convenient for her. You should have entered a prior discussion about how you both proceed to avoid such accidents and how much each of you could have acted differently to avoid this one.

If during this conversation you find out that you indeed were in gross negligence (i.e. there was a procedure you were informed about telling you to put all sensitive equipment in safe places), it would be fair that you'd pay for a new item if needed be. If you don't have the money, then propose that if she buys one (with your prior approval) you will repay her in installments. If she does not have the money either, find a polite and elegant way to tell her that she should not depend on equipment she cannot replace/repair. Seek the boss to get equipment for the company in the worst case.

If this was partially her fault (i.e. she left a $250 tool on the corner of a table, knowing it would break if it felt to the ground), you've done your part already. But be nice to her, loosing ~250 bucks is stressful.

Also remember that this isn't the place to seek legal advice. Seek a lawyer if you need one, but I doubt your case will get to that point.

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    Perhaps there is a procedure for the equipment OWNER to put her sensitive equipment in safe places...
    – Solar Mike
    Sep 2, 2019 at 17:24
  • "Seek the boss to get equipment for the company in the worst case." Absolutely no! If work equipment gets damaged at the workplace while doing your work, first of all you ask your work provider for replacement.
    – Chris
    Sep 2, 2019 at 17:32
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    There are a number of trades where in some regions employees traditionally provide their own basic hand tools - for example in much of the US automobile mechanics, and indeed salon type professions. There are good arguments against that tradition (in some cases even laws limiting an employer's ability to require it), but employees taking better care of their own property is a common and somewhat plausible argument in favor of it. Sep 2, 2019 at 18:15
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    @ChrisStratton That seems to me another topic which is plausible to people in US, but not outside of it. Do employees get compensation for taking over the company's risk? Can employees buy insurances for each other's tools?
    – Chris
    Sep 2, 2019 at 18:39
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    @Chris works outside the US as well especially for mechanics and yes you can get insurance for personal tools at work, often the employer will have them covered.
    – Solar Mike
    Sep 2, 2019 at 18:48

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