The claimant was a joiner, working for the defendant. He was asked to replace a lock on a council property. When he arrived he realised it was a heavy fire door, which needed to be raised, so he called his colleague to assist for a two man job.

The claimant held the door, supporting it while his colleague removed the screws from the hinges. As the last screw came out, the door began to fall to his left side causing him to twist and lower the door to the ground. He sustained a hernia.

We argued the claimant had no training and there was no adequate risk assessment for removal of heavy fire doors. The defendant said the claimant and witness had 50 years between them in experience. They should have taken a common sense approach and put something under the door such as a chock.

The claimant and witness said they were just doing what they had always done in similar situations and they knew each other’s working methods. They had never been given different equipment by the defendant. It was the sheer weight of the door, which was 24kg, that took the claimant by surprise.

The Judge agreed with the claimant. He said the defendant had failed to train the claimant and to provide necessary equipment for heavy doors and these were breaches of the Manual Handling Regulations.

There was no contributory negligence. The two of them had done exactly what any other joiner in their situation would have done. Judgment for the claimant.

Newcastle Upon Tyne County Court, 14 April 2010.