The claimant had to open and close clamps while making moulds for plastic lids. Sometimes he would do this 1,000 times a day. When closing the clamp he would bang the handle with the heel of his hand. This caused carpal tunnel syndrome.

The Judge found this method of work amounted to a breach of the Manual Handling Regulations. There should have been some training that the job could be done without banging the handle by holding onto the clamp, gripping it with the fingers and pushing the lid shut.

That training would have avoided the injury, which an orthopaedic consultant, who gave evidence at trial, confirmed was caused by the work.

Nottingham County Court, 20 July 2009.

Fire fighting

The fire was at a derelict bungalow. It had nearly been extinguished. A fire fighter had removed tiles from the roof to create a space to attack the fire from above.

He had then placed some of the tiles on an internal ceiling, which he assured his officer in charge was “boarded”. However, the ceiling collapsed when our client entered the building to extinguish any remaining hotspots.

Our case was that the officer in charge should have dismantled the ceiling before our client entered the premises and his colleague should never have placed the tiles on the ceiling, which caused excessive weight on an already damp plaster ceiling and foreseeably caused the ceiling to collapse.

The officer in charge had misunderstood the comment by his colleague that the ceiling was “boarded”. He thought this meant the ceiling had wooden floorboards resting on a ceiling joist when the colleague meant the ceiling was plaster boarded. The officer in charge admitted he would have dismantled the ceiling before anyone else entered if he had realised that it was only plaster boarded.

The Judge said this was an error of communication.

It created a reasonably foreseeable risk of the ceiling collapsing and an injury that could easily have been avoided. That amounted to a breach of duty and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations in failing to carry out a proper risk assessment.

Judgment for the claimant.

Middlesbrough County Court, 20 July 2009.