27 July, 2017
The Claimant worked as a warehouse operative for a retail company; he alleged that he sustained an injury to his hand when turning over a pallet which had been incorrectly stacked. He claimed that his colleagues had been trained not to leave pallets upside down and this was the cause of his injury.
The Defendant argued that the Claimant had been rushing at the time of the accident, was not wearing gloves, and had failed to lift the pallets in accordance with his training.
The Judge found that the accident occurred because the Claimant failed to act in accordance with his training, he had flipped the pallet over briskly, without taking proper care. The Defendant had a suitable risk assessment for moving pallets and no complaints had been made. She also found the Defendant had an effective method of training; the Defendant had produced documents and diagrams and the witnesses were able to adequately describe how the pallets should be lifted.
The Judge concluded that "employers are not expected to be nursemaids to employees"; the Defendant is entitled to expect employees to behave sensibly. Ultimately, the Claimant's actions were unnecessary, he voluntarily moved the pallets because he didn't want to work elsewhere. The accident was entirely the fault of the Claimant. The claim was dismissed.
In this instance the Defendant had done all that was reasonably required to ensure the safety of its employees; staff were well trained and the task had been adequately risk assessed. The Judge recognised that employers can only do so much to protect their staff; and employees must also accept responsibility for their own actions especially when they depart from their training and instructions.