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Neil v DSG Retail Limited

7 August 2002
The issues

Manual Handling – lifting – failure to train.

The facts

The Claimant worked as a Warehouse Manager. His job included moving, on this occasion, microwave ovens. He was in the process of moving 100 such ovens manually, when he turned to answer a colleague’s call and twisted his body without moving his feet. At the time, he was holding one of the ovens at waist height. He injured his lumbar spine. An issue arose as to whether he had been trained. He had seen a Handout setting out a system for classifying products according to weight and which contained guidance on the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992.

There were also 4 posters in the Warehouse which also gave advice on lifting. The Judge at first instance found for the Defendant. The Claimant appealed.

The decision

1. The proper approach was for an employer to consider a particular task in the context of a particular place of work and a particular employee to perform the task.

2. Prima Facie Regulation 4 applied (avoidance of Manual Handling as far as practicable where the Manual Handling Operation involved a risk to injury).

3. The Judge had failed to consider whether the Claimant had established a breach of Regulation 4(1)(b)(ii) (every employer shall where it is not reasonably practicable to avoid the need of an employee to undertake a manual handling operation involving the risk of injury, should take appropriate steps to reduce the risk of injury).

4. The Judge had considered causation in isolation and had not considered the nature of the breach alleged to have caused the injury. This was an error.

5. The Defendant had conceded that it had failed to give the Appellant necessary training. There had been a clear breach of Regulation 4(1)(b)(ii).

6. The accident was reasonably foreseeable.

7. The Claimant had not been shown a video that was designed to train employees out of the instinct to twist when carrying a load.

8. That failure in the context of a breach of the Regulations being established should have led the Judge to find that the breach was a cause of the accident.

Appeal allowed.

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