A company has been fined and ordered to pay for costs for breaching health and safety regulations, which subsequently led to personal injury to one of its employees.

The unnamed employee was working on the installation of a beam and block floor at the Hillside Care Home, Swansea, on 10 March 2010, when the accident at work occurred.. He was at one end of a 174 kilogram metal beam and his co-worker was seeing to the other end of the beam. They were attempting to hoist the beam into position when the co-worker accidentally let go of the hoist, causing the beam to smash into the concrete floor below. The other end of the beam was catapulted into the unnamed worker’s groin, causing personal injury to him, notably a hairline fracture of his pelvis and paralysis to nerve endings in his left leg.

His employer, W A Bowler Ltd, was subsequently prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive for breach of health and safety regulations. It was alleged that W A Bowler Ltd had breached R.4(1) of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 – that they had failed to provide suitable equipment for the work to be carried out safely, which resulted in the employees of the company undertaking manual handling work which was dangerous in nature. The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 seek to encourage employers to carry out good practices and therefore minimise the possibility of personal injury occurring because of an accident at work.

R.4(1) of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 states that:

“Each employer shall—

a)      so far as is reasonably practicable, avoid the need for his employees to undertake any manual handling operations at work which involve a risk of their being injured; or

b)      where it is not reasonably practicable to avoid the need for his employees to undertake any manual handling operations at work which involve a risk of their being injured by:

i) make a suitable and sufficient assessment of all such manual handling operations to be undertaken by them, having regard to the factors which are specified in column 1 of Schedule 1 to these Regulations and considering the questions which are specified in the corresponding entry in column 2 of that Schedule,

ii) take appropriate steps to reduce the risk of injury to those employees arising out of their undertaking any such manual handling operations to the lowest level reasonably practicable, and

iii) take appropriate steps to provide any of those employees who are undertaking any such manual handling operations with general indications and, where it is reasonably practicable to do so, precise information on

the weight of each load, and

the heaviest side of any load whose centre of gravity is not positioned centrally.

W A Bowler Ltd was found guilty of breach of Regulation 4(1) of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992. They were fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £4,847.35 costs.

Marc Hadrill, a personal injury specialist at Redmans Solicitors, stated that: “This case shows that employers must take reasonably practicable steps to ensure that their employees are not injured in accidents at work because of failure to provide suitable work equipment.”

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The Direct 2 Lawyers Employment Team post daily on interesting employment law cases, Employment Tribunal judgments and Employment Appeal Tribunal judgments. All of the Employment Team posts are written by qualified specialist employment lawyers

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