Having a go when no help around

In this manual handling trial, the claimant lost for the first lift, which caused him injury but won for his second lift. Both turned on the issue of “having a go” where no assistance was available.


In the first instance, the claimant could not find a crane to move a pump. He knew there was a standing instruction not to handle a pump manually. He waited three quarters of an hour for his supervisor before taking the risk of moving the pump manually and was injured. It was held that he should have continued to wait for assistance and the culture and instructions of the workplace were quite clear that assistance and advice should be sought when moving pumps if no crane were available. The claimant admitted he knew that but said he had lost patience.

By contrast, on the second occasion, the claimant was moving fixtures that were normally moved by lifting strap. That was impossible here as the fixture was flush to the shelf. He had seen fixtures of this size moved manually by others and often did so himself.

Here it was held that here was a simple alternative to the manual-handling task, namely fitting lifting eyes to all fixtures so they could all be lifted by crane. The failure to provide those and to enforce a culture of seeking help rather than having a go at this task was a breach of the Manual Handling Regulations.

Cronin -v- Aerostructures Hamble Ltd, 6 December 2005, Southampton CC.

 Ambulance services and back up

This case turned on:
• whether a pre-existing vulnerability to a manual handling injury was reported to an employer
• whether there was adequate back-up on call when a technician was left alone with a heavy awkward lift.


It was held that:
• The claimant had not triggered a duty to look out for her manual handling capability either through a GP note on her return or proved she had mentioned this to her manager.
• The system was that a call could be placed to an ambulance liaison officer if help were needed. That call was not returned here. But there was further back-up from the emergency operations centre. The claimant was not criticised for failing to make that call, given that she was attending to a large lady in fragile health, but that system – and her failure to seek that help- discharged any liability under the MHOR.

The claimant lost.

Williams -v- Essex Ambulance Service NHS Trust, 12 January 2006.