Control and restraint training

The claimant was employed as a residential social worker by Sunderland Council.


On a course, she was participating in restraint techniques with two of her work colleagues when asked to role-play the part of the child who needed restraining and she was told to resist.

Her two colleagues lost their grip on the hold as she was resisting and the trainer, who was observing, came over to assist and together with one of the work colleagues pushed her shoulder back down to the floor whereby she dislocated her right shoulder. It was alleged that her employers and/or their employees were negligent in applying excessive force/pressure to her shoulder whereby she sustained injury.

The defendants denied there was an accident and that they were negligent.

The case was successful on the claimant’s own evidence as there were no contemporaneous documents other than a hospital record some four days later. The claimant had failed to notify the trainer at the end of the training of her injury and the defendants said there was no accident report form completed.

The only witness to the case did not see what happened but heard her cry out in pain and that evidence was crucial in the claimant’s success.

Murtha -v- Sunderland Council 

Slipping in care home

The Claimant slipped on water after showering a patient in a care home where she worked. After dressing the patient, the patient left the bathroom and as the claimant stood up from collecting dirty towels, she slipped on water.

There were defects with the shower in that it was leaking from the internal walls and causing damage to carpets and electrical sockets. However, these defects were not causative of the accident and this was accepted on behalf of the claimant.

The claimant’s case was that one of the other walls was a half partition which only came up to hip height and the rest was a shower curtain. The claimant supposed that the water had come from the shower curtain as it had been hanging outside of the partition and there was therefore a gap for the water to run down to the floor. She had not moved the curtain so that it hung inside the shower cubicle itself and said that she did not see any need to.

The Judge found no defect with the shower as there was no evidence that excessive water fell to the floor. No complaints had been made and he was not satisfied that there was such a quantity of water coming from the half partition to render the cubicle unsuitable. There was also no evidence to prove where exactly the water came from.

With regard to the floor, there were no complaints or previous accidents. While it was designed to be non-slip, it could not prevent slips altogether and it was a standard floor used in all care homes in the region. The Judge was not satisfied that it was unsuitable when it was installed.

The claimant’s only remaining argument was that it had become worn over time to become dangerous. This was not accepted. The Judge found it surprising that no complaints had been made if any water at all made the floor dangerous, which is what the claimants witnesses were saying. He said that, bearing in mind they were also concerned with the safety of patients, he found it improbable that it had not been mentioned to management. The probable answer was that the floor fell short of being dangerous and there was no breach of duty.

Case dismissed.

1 December 2005, Walton J

Helen Wansell -v- Northgate & Prudhoe NHS Trust

Slipping in care home