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Bennetts v Ministry of Defence, Court of Appeal, 15 March 2004

23 March 2004
The issues

Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 – Risk Assessment – Lifting – Training

The facts

The Claimant worked for the Ministry of Defence in the Mail Room sorting mail. The Claimant emptied a mailbag by lifting it up and turning it over. As she did so she injured her back. A post accident risk assessment was carried out which noted a medium risk of employers injuring themselves when sorting but as a result of stooping or carrying excessively heavy loads. The Recorder found that the Claimant had injured herself when she tried to free the mailbag from a trolley. It had snagged on the trolley when she tried to lift it. The Recorder found no breach of Regulations as there was no real risk that the Claimant would injure herself in a normal procedure of emptying the bag. The Claimant appealed alleging that the Recorder had been wrong to find no real risk of injury and that in the absence of training it was reasonably foreseeable that an employee might adopt an unusual system of lifting mailbags.

The decision

1. When making an assessment of manual handling operations there had to be an element of realism.

2. When considering what risk there was, thought had to be given to the context. Here there was no causal link between the absence of training and the injury.

Appeal dismissed.

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