Lifting something heavy at work and injured your back? If you have a claim for compensation our solicitors will advise you of the best way to get what you deserve. It may be easier than you think…
Avoid injuries when lifting in the workplace
Lifting poses a risk to many workers across the UK and the HSE has published considerable literature on helping individuals to avoid injury.
Lifting and the transportation of heavy items forms a large part of many jobs across the country, but individuals working in roles where they have to lift objects on a regular basis should be aware of the dangers this activity can pose.
Indeed, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has published guidelines on manual handling in the workplace and also the use of personal protective equipment – such as strapping and gloves – to further prevent the likelihood of injury.
What the law states
Covered under the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, employers must ensure their staff are fully trained and competent in the use of lifting equipment or face investigation by the HSE for the use of unsafe practices.
Furthermore, the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 – updated in 2002 – state there are no set limits for the maximum weight an individual can be asked to lift, although the regulations clearly point out that any request to carry items should be reasonable, with the whole process avoided where possible.
Hayward Baker chartered legal executive Gary Lee comments: “It is a fairly common injury and we have many cases that involve clients who have a back injury after lifting at work.
“It is very easy to injure your back when handling even fairly light loads. It is also extremely easy for employers to provide equipment and training, which can reduce the need to manually handle items or at least minimise the risk of injury to their employees.”
Understanding the importance of proper lifting technique is one of the most important factors in mitigating the chances of being injured.
According to the HSE, a step by step approach to lifting is the safest method. Its recommendations state individuals should always take the time to plan a lift, understanding where the load needs to be placed, how heavy it is and taking the time to remove any obstructions or discarded wrapping which could present a trip hazard.
The action of actually lifting an item is also highlighted. Individuals should adopt a stable position and keep the load as close to their body as possible. They should then get a good hold of the object, bending at the knee – never the back – if they are required to stoop down.
Lifting should then be carried out in a smooth motion, avoiding any twists of the body or leaning sideways, as this can injure muscles that are under strain.
When carrying the object, it should be held as close to the waist as possible, with the heavier side – if there is one – leaning into the individual. This method for lifting has been shown to reduce the likelihood of injury.
Moreover, business managers should carry out risk assessments relating to tasks which require lifting in the workplace, ensuring they keep accurate records of where this activity may be required and provide recommendations for helping to ensure members of staff do not suffer injuries.
Problems to look for when assessing risk include highlighting tasks that include holding loads away from the body, anything which requires stooping or reaching upwards, repetitive handling or pushing and pulling, as well as insufficient rest and recovery time. These assessments should also be updated regularly.
Can I get compensation for lifting injuries?
The simple answer to the above question is yes.
Anyone who has been injured in the workplace as a result of their employer’s failure to provide them with the proper training and/or equipment to lift items can receive compensation for their discomfort and time off work.
“Obviously the more serious the effect, the more the likely award of compensation,” Mr Baker notes.
“Where the injuries are such that the client is unable to return to work, requires adaptations to [their] home and needs regular nursing care, awards can run into seven figures.”
The process of making a compensation claim for injury in the workplace is actually relatively straightforward.
Injured parties will often be asked to attend an independent examination by a medical professional to ascertain the extent of their injuries, while statements regarding the accident will be sought from themselves, their employer and co-workers.
Once this has been completed, legal representatives assigned to the case will do much of the legwork, leaving the injured party able to sit back and wait for the conclusion of their lawsuit.