The claimant was registered blind. He was very independent before this accident. He could visit his local shop without assistance and without using his stick.

He was walking along a pavement with barriers alongside. The barriers had protruding feet and he tripped on one and fell to the floor. We argued they had been erected without reference to the Code of Practice for the New Roads and Street Works Act and did not take account of vulnerable pedestrians, of which there would be a high percentage on this street since it led to a hospital. The Code suggests alternatives for vulnerable pedestrians e.g. tapping rails for the blind.

The barriers did not appear to serve any purpose other than to guide construction staff.

Judgment for the claimant.
Leeds County Court


Leaning over the stable door

The sushi factory was divided into high-risk and low-risk areas with a stable door between them. For hygiene reasons, no one was supposed to go from one area to another.

When people in the high-risk area wanted something from the low-risk area they were supposed to ask the service users on that side to hand boxes over. The claimant and witnesses gave evidence that this happened three or four times a day and, 90 per cent of the time, no one was available. So they tended to lean over the door and reach down to pick up a bag.

Halting production to wait for a service user was frowned upon.

The defendants said they should have waited. A halt in production would not have lead to a reprimand. However, the health and safety manager conceded he only visited this section for about three minutes three or four times a week and he had seen people leaning over a few times.

He had never disciplined anyone who had leant over into another area. There were no written instructions about this task. Nor had previous breaches led to further meetings or instructions.

The Judge found the breaches were condoned and commonplace and the defendants had failed to address the issue of notice of or instructions they had breached Regulation 4 (1) (a) of the Manual Handling Regulations.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne County Court, 7 April 2008.