How would you feel if you went to work, carrying you your normal activities, when a colleague fell on top of you, causing you a life-changing injury? Well that is precisely what happened to my client.
He was a serving prison officer and moving a prisoner from a cell. Whilst doing so his supervising officer, who was not part of the manoeuvre, fell onto my client’s back. He had to give up work on the front line at the age of only 29. He lost his career and a job that he loved.
To recap on the law, an employer’s duty is to carry out an adequate risk assessment. This has been settled law for over 20 years, since the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992. The staff also must be properly trained and instructed. We argued that the risk of injury had not been properly assessed by the Ministry of Justice. We also argued that the training provided was inadequate. We had maintained all the way through that the issue was whether the supervising officer should stay completely out of the way to ensure they did not cause injury to themselves or others by their inadvertent involvement in the incident.
The Ministry of Justice fiercely denied liability and the case went to trial. After 2 full days of evidence, and only minutes before Judgment was due to be handed down, a settlement was reached Whilst I am not allowed to say anything about the terms of the settlement, I can say that my client was very satisfied with the outcome!
The issues in this case crop up time and again in the workplace and, as often as not, serious injury can be avoided by employers simply carrying out and implementing good risk assessments, as they have been legally required to do for over two decades.
There is really no excuse.
This blog was written by Simon Bransby of Morgan Jones & Pett, the conducting lawyer for the prison officer. The Claimant was represented at trial by Mr. Muhammed Haque of Crown Office Chambers in his last trial as a junior (Muhammed will be taking Silk and become a QC on the 16th February 2015).