The claimant worked in a warehouse for Goulds where he injured his back lifting a 17kg roll of plastic pallet wrap from a pallet onto a machine on the shop floor. The employer’s defence was that they had done a risk assessment and provided adequate training.

At trial, the claimant led the Judge through the principles of manual handling claims, in particular the Court of Appeal’s decision in King -v- RCO. Support Services Ltd (2000) where the defendant had failed to plead and prove that it was not reasonably practicable to avoid lifting (Regulation 4 MHOR 1992).

The Judge accepted this argument and referred to the failure on the defendant’s part to plead this in their defence. The Judge accepted that the roll was heavy and that the employer had not thought about whether there was any alternative way the job could have been done to avoid lifting the rolls.

He found for the claimant.

Millward -v- Goulds.

Workplace: failure to assess risk of handling at height was cause of fall

The claimant was standing on a cutting bed to lift a steel plate. The plate swung towards him and, as he moved to avoid the collision, he fell from the bed. He argued the plate had been clamped incorrectly. However the judge found as a matter of fact that he had not swung the load correctly and not made a trial lift as he had been trained to do.

Nevertheless the judge found the claimant was injured only because he had been standing on a bed at height to do the lift. He found that, if there had been a specific risk assessment for the job, a method should have been found to allow the claimant to remain on the floor when hoisting the sheet of steel.

So there were breaches of the Workplace Regulations 13 (1) and 3(a) as to working at height; Regulation 4 of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations and Regulation 8 and 9 PUWER 1998 for failure to instruct properly.

The claimant’s part in the accident was only contributory negligence of 15 per cent. However his inaccurate version that the plate had not been clamped properly was penalised more heavily on costs where the judge exercised his discretion that the claimant only recover 50 per cent.

Borthwick -v- Dyfed Steels Limited. His Honour N Bidder, Swansea County Court, 6 September 2006.