0370 270 6000

Swaine v Denso Marston Ltd

21 September 2000
The issues

Manual Handling Regulations 1992 – injury to the right hand.

The facts

The Claimant was a Production Worker. He had worked for the Defendant for fourteen years. He had to strip down part of a conveyor system at the Defendant’s premises in Leeds. The bearings on the conveyor roller needed to be replaced. He had to move the roller himself to do this. He expected it to be hollow as his experience of the conveyor rollers always were. This one was solid and weighed 20KG. As he removed it the unexpected weight trapped his right hand against the metal frame and caused a crush injury. The conveyor had been supplied by an outside supplier and the Claimant had originally seen the conveyor at the supplier’s premises when it had been fully assembled. He had never had to strip it down himself. He had not been told by the suppliers about the weight of the roller and no brochure had been made available to him. It is common ground that the liability issue turned on the Manual Handling Operating Regulations 1992. The Claimant alleged a breach of regulations 4(1)(b)(iii) of the regulations requiring an employer to take appropriate steps to provide employees undertaking manual handling operations with general indications and where reasonably practical to do so precise information on the weight of each load. At Trial the Judge decided that these obligations arose only where a suitable and sufficient risk assessment had been undertaken and had revealed the existence of the risk. Moreover the Judge found that the Claimant had been engaged in carrying out an assessment himself. As the accident had occurred before the assessment was complete he concluded that no obligation had arisen under regulation 4(1)(b)(iii).
The Claimant appealed.

The decision

Appeal would be allowed.

An employer who fails to carry out a proper assessment under regulation 4(1)(b)(i) is not excused from compliance of other obligations under the regulation as a consequence of its failure. The requirement to take appropriate steps related not only to the means of communicating information but more generally to the practicality of what is needed in the circumstances. This was not a case in which the Defendant could rely on the proposition that an employer’s obligation to transmit information arose only if a proper assessment would have identified a risk of injury. If a proper assessment had been taken the Defendant might well have required the supplier to provide a brochure or specification. If none of that was possible prudence would have dictated the assumption that it might be unexpectedly heavy. At least that assumption could have been communicated to employees who needed the information. In concluding moreover that the Claimant had been undertaking the assessment the Judge formed an impossible view of the facts as it was claimed that the Claimant had been engaged in an urgent maintenance job.

Focus on...

Legal updates

Court of Appeal confirms exclusive English jurisdiction clause in excess liability policies in Canadian pipeline dispute

On 10 June 2022 the Court of Appeal upheld an anti-suit injunction granted in favour of insurers by Mr Justice Jacobs in September 2021 restraining proceedings from being brought in Canada and enforcing the exclusive English jurisdiction clause in excess liability policies.



Payment Fraud landscape shaped by technology in 2021

Payment systems across Europe are under increased pressure to mitigate fraud risks and defend against persistent attacks from enablers using ever more sophisticated and malicious viruses and malware.


Legal updates

Assessing the scope of employers liability – Chell v Tarmac

These were the opening remarks of Mr Justice Martin Spencer when handing down his Judgment in the recent case of Andrew Chell v Tarmac Cement and Lime Limited [2020] EWHC 2613, the latest in a series of appeals dealing with the scope of vicarious liability.



Employers liability for practical jokes in the workplace

The extent of vicarious liability has been tested by the courts again and this time in relation to employees engaging in horseplay and practical jokes.


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.

Mailing list sign up

Select which mailings you would like to receive from us.

Sign up