A workplace car park was made of loose chippings. The defendant, a Borough Council, had hoped to smooth it over with tarmac but had run out of funds.
The claimant, wearing normal ladies’ shoes, tripped on the loose chippings as she got out of her car.
The Judge found that using loose chippings represented a breach of all three relevant sections of Reg 12 of the Workplace Regulations. The surface was not suitably constructed in breach of Reg 12(1). It may have been suitable for construction workers or in temporary car parks but not for a typical office worker in ladies’ shoes.
There was a breach of Reg 12( 2) in respect of the unevenness of the surface. Reg 12(3) had also been breached. Lack of money was not a sufficient defence on reasonable practicability when set against the risk of injury.
There was no negligence by the Claimant. The claimant had no choice but to use the surface, she could not go around it.
Birmingham CC 11 March 2010.
The claimant trapped her hand between a trolley stacked with school dining tables and a door frame. A cupboard that was used to store the trolley and chairs had had a curtain across it. However, five days prior to the accident, a wooden door frame and door were installed instead of the curtain, reducing the opening to pull the trolley through by 14 cm.
The client had received no training on how to hold the trolley to move it other than her preferred way of holding the frame of the trolley at each corner.
She gave evidence that she held it this way as, because the dining tables were leant against the bar, which the Defendant suggested she should hold in a ‘pincer’ type grip, she would not afford get a good control or grip.
The client had to pull the trolley out of the cupboard to set up the tables on the fifth day after the installation of the door. The trolley wheels swerved to the left trapping the client’s left hand causing a laceration and bruising.
Following her return to work, the client was provided with a risk assessment that showed the risk of trapping hands. Handles were placed on the frame of the trolley after the accident and staff were advised to pull the trolley using the handles only.
The Judge found that the claimant had received no formal training on the moving of the trolley. Following the installation of the door frame no training was provided. The client had only moved the trolley on three occasions after installation of the door frame.
She found that the client would have followed any instructions had they been provided. She found that the defendants are not entitled to assume that an employee can look after themselves. The defendant had argued that this was an everyday task and was so simple it needed no instruction.
She found that the client was only aware of the risk assessment dated 2003 before the accident and the 2008 risk assessment after the accident.
The risk was real and foreseeable. She was satisfied that the operation was a Manual Handling Operation and fell within the MH Regs. She found that under Reg 4b(ii) the defendants had not done all that could have done to reduce the risk.
Kingston upon Hull CC, 29 April 2010.