The importance of risk assessments and manual handling training have been highlighted by a £90,000 payout to a care worker who was injured when a client fell on her.
Social worker Debbie Carter, who worked for Worcestershire County Council, had been left alone to help a client into bed when the accident happened in a Bromsgrove residential home in October 2003.
Unfortunately the woman, who was known to have mobility problems, lost her balance as she got out of her chair. Lunging forward to grab her zimmer frame, she fell backwards and sideways onto Debbie.
Ms Carter injured her lower back and has since suffered depression; she has not been able to return to work. Her action was backed by her union, Unison.
Employers have a legal duty to prevent their staff being injured. However, Ms Carter had only been on one manual handling course in 12 years. And she was left to work with her client one-to-one, despite substantial notes showing the woman had poor mobility and a history of falls.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “This incident emphasises how important it is that employers conduct a proper risk assessment of manual handling tasks.
“Injury can occur from a one-off event, as in this case, or over time from a repetitive or poorly performed task.
“A proper risk assessment would have ascertained the need for more regular training. It may have also identified that lone working was not appropriate.”