Manual Handling – burden of proof – common law – regulations
H was injured at work when he and a colleague were lifting a 50 kg bag of cement. He sought damages from his employers on the basis of common law negligence and a breach of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 Reg. 4(1)(a). The Council asserted that there was no reasonably practicable alternative system for lifting the cement.
The case based on common law negligence failed as the Council was entitled to consider that the operation in question had been carried out daily without injury or complaint for a number of years and that the risk of injury was not such as to mean that an experienced employee would suffer injury. However, the Court found that there was a foreseeable possibility of injury in the lifting operation in which H was engaged when he was injured and it was therefore for the Council to show that it was not reasonably practicable to have avoided the need to undertake the manual handling operation. The question was whether there was no reasonably practical means of avoiding manual handling which involved a risk of injury, and the Council had failed to show that it was not reasonably practicable to avoid H having to undertake the manual handling operation.