The claimant worked in the anaesthetic room in an operating theatre. She was working with a healthcare assistant to move a patient from his bed onto the operating trolley. The client and the assistant were using a pat slide which is a heavy duty piece of plastic that they slid under the patient. The patient had had his pre medication. The claimant and the assistant were on each side of the trolley.

On the count of the three they started to move the patient on the pat slide from the bed onto the trolley with the claimant pushing the patient away from her and the assistant pulling the patient. Suddenly the patient sat up. His weight transferred over to the claimant’s side and she suffered an injury to her back.

The claim was based on breach of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations. The defendant’s case was that it was not reasonably practicable to avoid the manual handling of the patient from bed to trolley. The Judge found in favour of the claimant whose case was that she had asked the assistant to look for a third person to help with the lift but that there was no one available.

The Judge deducted a third for contributory negligence on the basis of the finding that the claimant did not ask for help, and was very experienced.

Manchester County Court, 8 February 2007.

Ice slipping case succeeds

An auxiliary nurse slipped on ice in the grounds of a hospital while making her way into work. The case turned upon whether the defendants had done what was ‘reasonably practicable’ under Section 12 (3) of the Workplace Regulations.

The defendants said that they had been out gritting during the course of the night although efforts had been hampered by rain the previous evening which meant that the grit was washed away. The hospital ran out of grit less than an hour after the accident.

The Judge said that there had clearly been a dangerous situation as at least five other members of staff had slipped and injured themselves in the grounds of the hospital. He said it was simply not enough to satisfy the test of reasonable practicability to keep doing the same thing with ever decreasing resources of grit.

They could have blocked the entrance to the hospital that the claimant had used either totally or partially, could have obtained more grit, or could have found more manpower to help with the operations. The defendants were found liable, though the claimant was found guilty of 25 per cent contributory negligence.

Manchester County Court, 20 March 2007