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Injury not caused by repetitive strain.

A recent County court case demonstrates the importance of employers recording and maintaining records of risk assessments and health and safety training.

The claimant in the case was employed by the defendant as a manual parcel handler for just less than two years. He resigned when back pain made him unable to continue in his job.

He brought proceedings against his employers alleging that a previously asymptomatic back condition had been exacerbated by his work.

He claimed that the work was repetitive, had not been subject to sufficient risk assessment and that his employers had failed to provide a safe system of work.

The defendant denied liability on the basis that the job was a simple and straightforward one, had been properly risk assessed and was not repetitive.

There was no previous history of any injuries arising from this work. It was accepted by both parties that the work could not have been done mechanically.

The records showed and the judge accepted that the claimant had received a significant amount of training including on manual handling and that this had been updated.

There was not a formal system of breaks in place but employees could and did cover for each other on an ad hoc basis. There was inevitably some element of repetition but the injury had not been caused by this but by the claimant’s posture and his twisting while lifting, both of which he had been trained to avoid.

The judge found that the defendant could not have done more to protect the claimant from injury and dismissed his claim.

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