When someone is injured at work in a preventable accident that was not their own fault, it is not always immediately clear who is to blame.
A recent case dealt with a claim brought by a warehouse worker who hurt his back while unloading goods delivered to the premises by an outside company. A loose item fell from one of the pallets and, in taking evasive action, he suffered the injury.
Both the man’s employer and the company responsible for delivering the load denied responsibility.
The case went to court and the judge found that the delivery company was at fault. It had no system in place for checking lorry loads in order to minimise any risk of injury to those handling the goods at all stages of their journey. The accident had occurred because the pallets had not been secured properly.
The Health and Safety Executive has useful guidance at http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/factsheets/loading.htm
on how to avoid problems when loading and unloading goods. This emphasises that checks should be made before unloading to make sure loads have not shifted during transit and are not likely to move or fall when restraints are removed. It may also be necessary for hauliers and those receiving the goods to exchange information about the nature of the consignment so that safe unloading procedures can be agreed.