30 June, 2017
Matthews v The Co-operative Group
The Claimant was employed by the Defendant as a retail assistant. She alleged that she sustained an injury when attempting to lift a box of milk from the bottom of a cage. She claimed that the box had been incorrectly loaded and was therefore wedged into the bottom of the cage.
The Defendant denied liability, the activity had been fully risk assessed and the Claimant had received manual handling training just one month prior to the accident.
At trial, the Claimant admitted that she knew how to lift and that she had received various forms of training. Crucially she conceded that if you twist when lifting then an injury is likely to occur.
The Claimant changed her statement numerous times under cross examination; she described that she injured herself not on pulling at the wedged in box but when lifting. She also described how she had tilted the box because it was stuck and then had to use additional force to lift it.
In his Judgment, the Judge held that the inconsistencies and admissions as to what the Claimant knew worked against her. He found that the Claimant had failed to follow her training and had lifted and twisted at the same time. The claim was therefore dismissed.
The claim was robustly defended; there was little more the Defendant could have done. The task had been fully risk assessed, the risk of injury was reduced to the lowest possible level and the Claimant had been trained only one month prior to the accident.