Back injuries are the most common work-related injuries in the UK. Each year, a quarter of million people hurt their backs while at work, and one of the most common causes for an injured back is lifting. Often a back injury can be the fault of the employer. This is because employers have an obligation to see that employees who are expected to lift objects in the course of their work can do so safely and without risk of injury. If employers fail in this obligation then somebody who injures their back at work can claim compensation.
What is meant by ‘manual handling’?
The lifting of objects in the workplace is known as manual handling. While lifting something may seem like a straightforward task, it actually requires proper manual handling training. Because employers have a duty of care towards their workforce, they need to have provided some form of manual handling training so that employees know the right way and wrong way to lift. This is important due to the fact that incorrect lifting can easily lead to a back injury.
Employees should be restricted to lifting a reasonable weight
Health and safety legislation doesn’t set a specific weight limit that is safe for people to lift. This is because different people have different levels of strength and what might be safe for one individual may not be safe for another. However, the law states that employers have an obligation to assess the risk of any manual handling and reduce the risk of injury wherever possible. This may mean imposing limits as to what each employee can lift or providing an alternative to lifting items such as a forklift truck.
How is the liability for my injury determined?
If an employer fails to provide proper manual handling training or doesn’t conduct a proper risk assessment on the lifting of objects then they could be held liable for any injury suffered by an employee. In addition to this, if an employer hasn’t taken practical steps to avoid having their employees lift objects then they could also be deemed liable. However, it is not always easy to know whether an employer is at fault when you injure your back lifting something at work, which is why it is important to speak to a personal injury solicitor as soon as possible, as he or she will be able to advise you as to whether you can make a claim.