All too often, we see clients who invest time (and thereby money) on policies and risk assessments, but don’t back this up with training. All that time and money is in reality a waste as the best polices and risk assessments in the world are worthless if no-one knows about them.

A recent court case in which an employer (Iceland Foods) successfully defended a personal injury claim demonstrates, amongst other things, the importance of training as part of health and safety risk management.

Mr Narey, a sales assistant was carrying a plastic crate of shopping for home delivery when he lost his grip on the crate which fell onto and fractured his right big toe. He argued that Iceland should have provided him with steel toe capped boots which would have prevented the injury.

Iceland was able to show the court its risk assessment for handling home delivery crates. The court found it was “suitable and sufficient”. A maximum weight for the crates was imposed. Stacks of crates had to be no more than five crates high and the crates could not be overloaded as they would then not stack. If the crates were being moved, the stack had to be no more than four crates high. Shorter people who had a problem with moving the crates had to seek help.

Iceland was also able to demonstrate that staff, including Mr Narey were aware of all of this through training (and he did not dispute that he had had the training). New employees were shown a film on safe ways to handle stock and equipment as part of their induction and were given training materials.

The court did not think it was necessary for Iceland to provide protective equipment and as it was clear that Mr Narey had been properly trained on what to do/not to do, his claim failed.