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Johnson v Alpha Steel Ltd, Court of Appeal

21 September 2000
The issues

Work place accident – crushing injury by forklift truck – relevance of provision and use of work equipment regulations 1992.

The facts

Claimant worked as a Utility Man on the floor of a Furnace owned by the Defendant. He helped out as necessary and received no formal training. On the day of the accident he was helping with the taking of samples for analysis from the furnace. It involved him wearing heavy duty gauntlets and driving a fork lift truck. He had experience of a fork lift truck in previous employments. There is no indication from the report as to whether he was certificated but presumably he was not. On occasions he had to use one hand and possibly for moments or two no hands at all as he transferred the very hot sample container from one hand to the other. Whilst in a hurry having completed one of his journeys he got off the fork lift truck and found himself trapped by it against a barrier. He thought he had put the gears into neutral and applied the handbrake. He alleged that the Defendants were in breach of regulation 9(1) P.U.W.E.R. 1992 in that they had failed to train him to drive the forklift and that they had allowed him or made him drive one handed whilst carrying the sample and for failing to attach a carrying device to the fork lift.

Before the Judge the Defendant was found one third to blame, the Claimant having accepted that he failed to apply the handbrake. The Defendant appealed.

The decision

The Judge was entitled to reach the view that some fault rested with ASL. He had not relied solely on the lack of training in his judgment and he was entitled to reach the view in particular that the Claimant’s task of manoeuvring whilst controlling or attempting to control hot samples of molten lead had distracted the Claimant and contributed to the failure to apply the handbrake. To a lesser extent the lack of emphasis of training had also led to a causative connection between training and failure to apply the handbrake. Moreover the Judge was entitled to take account of the fact that the Claimant had to carry out manoeuvres without undue delay. Appeal dismissed.

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The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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