Repetitive jobs and the six pack
The claimant suffered a soft tissue strain of the left forearm as a result of having to repetitively “break” cardboard boxes in his work for the defendant. This task was normally carried out by an Easybreak machine. The claimant, however, carried it out manually for approximately an hour and a half on the morning of 12 August 2003, breaking in the region of 6,000 to 9,000 boxes.
The claimant alleged breaches of Regulation 4 of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, Regulations 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and of the employers duties at common law.
The defendants admitted that the claimant reported having suffered injury to his left wrist on the morning of 12 August 2003 and admitted that the Easybreak machine was not working on that day, so the boxes had to be broken manually.
Upon hearing all the evidence, Mr Recorder Evans found in the claimant’s favour and the claim succeeded under breaches of Regulations 4 (1) (a) and 4 (1) (b) of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 and 5 (1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 with no finding of contributory negligence.
The claimant was a staff nurse at a Hospital near Liverpool. He was working in a ward in the secure area of the hospital when he received an urgent instruction to attend to a disturbance on nearby Arnold Ward. As he was running into Arnold Ward he slipped on duck excrement on the block paved pathway which lead up to the entrance door of the ward.
The claimant stated that, at the time of his accident, there were numerous patches of duck excrement scattered about on the surface of the block paved pathway and he estimated that about one quarter of the total surface area of the pathway was contaminated and that it was slimy and very slippery. This had been a problem for several years prior to his accident due to the fact that several hundred mallard ducks had colonised the site and their presence on the site had been maintained as a result of the patients feeding them. However, there was no routine system of cleaning the excrement from the paths.
The defendants denied liability. They admitted that they had been aware of the problems caused by the ducks and their droppings since at least 1996 but that their awareness was confined to the problem of droppings in the grassed areas adjacent to the kitchens and catering areas in the secure unit and also that, as far as they were concerned, this was purely a hygiene issue and not a possible slipping issue. However, the ducks were subsequently captured and relocated to a site in Yorkshire in July 2001.
At the hearing, the Judge found in favour of the claimant. He was critical of the defendants and found that they had not taken any or any reasonably practicable steps to either prevent the problems caused by the presence of such a large number of ducks on their site or how to deal with the ducks’ droppings, which he found gave rise to a foreseeable slipping hazard, bearing in mind that they had been aware of the problems since at least 1996.
Laurence Halloran -v- Merseycare NHS Trust