Lifting at work is one of the most common causes of injuries to workers across the UK. Around a third of all serious work injuries reported each year are the direct result of manual handling. The 2008/09 Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report on safety in the workplace recorded 3,516 individual major injuries associated with manual handling, carrying, and lifting at work. It is estimated that 70 million working days are lost annually due to back injuries, the majority of which are caused or made worse by working conditions. In the same way as head injuries, back injuries must be taken extremely seriously, as the vertebrae in the back protect the spinal cord which transmits messages from the body to the brain. Work lifting injuries may take many months or years to heal. In other cases injuries and ongoing back pain may be permanent. Injuries may require considerable amounts of time off work, and are likely to affect an injured person’s ability to perform everyday activities. Lifting injuries range from minor sprains which heal in days, to spinal cord damage potentially leading to paralysis. Employers must take measures to prevent lifting injuries occurring in the workplace, these include providing training in lifting techniques and using equipment to lift wherever possible.
Manual handling injuries are normally caused by the immediate physical trauma of lifting a heavy weight. They are more likely to occur when a person has a pre-existing back condition, which may be made worse by lifting in the workplace. Workers are also more likely to sustain a lifting injury if they are working while physically tired. Often lifting injuries are cumulative; the back is gradually damaged over the course of many years of work. This often leads to permanent arthritic conditions. Strains and strains to the muscles and tendons in the back are the most regularly recorded lifting injuries. Hernias caused by ruptured muscle tissue in the lower body are also common.
More serious back injuries include slipped or herniated disks, trapped nerves and fractured vertebrae. Workers in a range of professions will be more likely to be injured while lifting in the workplace, including warehouse and factory workers, farmers, couriers, and health care staff. In the farming industry handling, lifting and carrying activities account for over half the total number of injuries recorded each year. Injuries are also common in offices where heavy furniture or files are lifted by staff.
Employers have a duty of care to their employees to provide a reasonably safe workplace and system of work. This includes taking measures to minimize the risk of manual handling and lifting injuries. Under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 such tasks should be avoided wherever the possibility of injury exists. All possible alternative means of completing the task should be considered. Where manual handling cannot be avoided the job should be comprehensively risk assessed. Workers should also be provided with training in safe lifting techniques. Bartletts solicitors have had extensive experience with lifting at work compensation claims over the past twenty years. We operate on a No Win No Fee basis meaning if you win your case you keep all of the damages awarded, and if you lose you will not pay a penny.