An employer was found not liable for injuries suffered by an employee who had been provided with manual handling training.  The Court of Appeal has held that the employee carried out a task which was contrary to the system of work in place.

The original award of €67,000 given by the High Court, was appealed and overturned by the Court of Appeal.

Facts of the Case: –

  • Employee checkout operator left her till to replace a 10kg bag of potatoes for a customer because they were torn.
  • The employee tore a biceps muscle when lifting a bag from a pallet (the bag was wedge between two other bags).

Employee stated that: –

  • There was no safe system of work on the day of the accident, as there was nobody there to help. Therefor she had to lift the bag.
  • She had not received training to lift a 10 kg bag of potatoes from a pallet on ground level.

Original finding of the High Court: –

  • The lift was dangerous and the employer did not train in task specific training such as lifting a bag of potatoes

Overruling by the court of appeal:-  

  • The employee chose not to use the system of work where she could call out for assistance using the tannoy system.
  • She could have called for assistance contrary to evidence given that they were short staffed on the day.
  • It was unreasonable to expect an employer to train employee to lift every type of product they would have to handle.
  • Even though she was trained using an empty cardboard box, the checkout operator knew how the load was to be lifted and she was instructed on how to assess the weight and size of a load.
  • The Judge said it was not reasonable to expect an employer to have training programs in place for lifting products of this nature.
  • The judge indicated the use of the cardboard box could not be seen as negligence on behalf of the employer.

Ex (Martin v Dunnes Stores (Dundalk); Court of Appeal, March 2016)