By Megan Webster. Last Updated 25th January 2023. In this guide, we explore how to make a manual handling accident claim following a workplace accident.
According to Unison, 300,000 people in the UK suffer from back pain due to manual handling accidents. Additionally, one in three accidents at work are caused by manual handling.
Anyone who works in an environment where they are required to bend or lift objects regularly, or manoeuver heavy items may be at risk of various injuries if reasonable measures aren’t taken to protect them. We’ll discuss the different injuries that an employee could sustain in this type of accident. For instance, workers who perform repetitive tasks without breaks may be at risk of musculoskeletal disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
If you have suffered an accident like this because your employer failed to uphold the duty of care they owed you, you could have grounds to make a personal injury claim against your employer. In this article, we discuss the duty of care an employer may owe you and how they could breach it, resulting in you sustaining harm in an accident.
We’ll also discuss what evidence can be helpful. Furthermore, we’ll look at the compensation you may be owed for injuries such as a back injury.
Although we have aimed to provide the information you need, you may require additional information. If so, you can get in touch with our team of advisors on the details listed below.
Get In Touch
If you have experienced a back injury whilst moving something in the workplace and feel confident that you have the necessary grounds to start a claim immediately, you can get in touch with our team right now by:
- Calling us on 0800 408 7825
- Contact us by filling out our online form
- Use the ‘live support’ option for instant and free consultation
Select A Section
- What Is A Manual Handling Accident?
- Guidelines On Safe Manual Handling In The Workplace
- Manual Handling Injuries – Examples
- How Long After A Manual Handling Accident Could You Make A Claim?
- How Do I Prove A Manual Handling Accident Caused My Injury?
- Calculating Payouts For Manual Handling Accidents
- Start A No Win No Fee Claim For Injuries Caused By Manual Handling Accidents
- Related Workplace Accident Claims
Manual handling is the act of physically moving an item such as lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling or carrying. Thousands of job roles could involve manual lifting, such as those working in construction, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry and fishing or transportation and storage.
The workers who perform these jobs could be at constant risk of arm, elbow, wrist, hand, shoulder or knee injury if they aren’t carried out correctly.
If this happened to you and the problem was caused by incorrect training or you were required to lift an excessive weight, you could have a legitimate claim for damages against your employer.
What Does The Law Require For Employers?
Workers are protected by legislation that obliges all employers to uphold their duty of care as much as they reasonably can. Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HASAWA) sets out general duties for employers, such as:
- Providing adequate training and supervising staff in their duties
- Ensuring they have the correct tools or attire for the job and ensuring the tools or equipment is fit for purpose
- Ensuring they’re taking regular, structured breaks from heavy manual work
- Designating a Health and Safety Officer
- Conducting risk assessments to spot hazards before they become a problem and putting measures in place to control or remove the risk
- Meeting with union representatives and listening to employee concerns about safety
- Acting upon these findings in a prompt, timely manner
Additionally, many employers are responsible for reporting a workplace accident in an accident log book. Also, certain injuries and accidents need to be reported under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2012 (RIDDOR).
Under Section 7 of HASAWA, employees also have expectations to do all they can to protect themselves and their co-workers and avoid a manual handling accident or injury whilst working.
How Do I Know I Have A Valid Personal Injury Claim?
In order to hold a valid personal injury claim, you must be able to demonstrate that negligence occurred. For that reason, it’s important to clarify three points at the start of your claim:
- That you were owed a duty of care
- That the person breached the duty of care they owed you
- You sustained harm as a result
In instances where these three criteria are met, negligence may have occurred meaning your employer may have been liable for the accident in which you sustained harm.
Once you can satisfy yourself that your employer was liable under this criteria, you could connect with a personal injury specialist to construct a claim for compensation.
Suing your employer may seem daunting, but you could seek a compensation payout if they failed to take reasonable steps to protect your health and safety, resulting in your injury.
If you’re concerned about the financial risk to the company, you should be aware that the majority of employers are required to have liability insurance. This is as per the Employers’ (Compulsory Liability) Insurance Act 1969 which allows employees to pursue a claim for compensation without worrying about the financial impact on the workplace.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is a government agency that enforces, regulates and encourages workplace health, safety and welfare. It provides detailed guidance on how to lift and carry objects in the workplace to avoid a back injury or other types of manual handling injury. Some examples of actions you can take prior to handling an object might include:
- Think carefully before attempting to lift an object. Consider where it needs to go beforehand so that you are not carrying it for too long.
- Rest heavy weights if you have to hold them for extended periods
- Adopt a stable position with feet apart to aid balance before and during the lift
- Avoid unsuitable footwear or attire
- Put objects down if you need to reposition the load you are carrying
It’s important to note that it is the employer’s responsibility to adequately train staff to perform their duties safely and provide the correct lifting equipment. Expecting staff to instinctively understand how to lift or move objects safely could lead to avoidable accidents and injuries.
You could suffer from various types of manual handling injuries in lifting accidents. However, to be able to make a personal injury claim, you must prove that your injury was a direct result of your employer breaching their duty of care. Some of the manual handling injuries you could suffer from include:
- Sprain or strains – This could be caused from having to carry a heavy load and could result in a sprained wrist.
- Hernia – If you have to over-strain yourself to lift a heavy load, this could lead to a hernia. If left untreated, this could cause you to suffer from an immense amount of pain.
- Back injury – Such as a slipped disc or displaced vertebrae.
- Breaks and fractures – If you dropped something due to lack of training, you could potentially suffer a fractured foot or toe.
Do not hesitate to contact our advisors today if you have any questions about starting an accident at work claim for a manual handling injury. Our advisors could offer you free legal advice regarding your claim and connect you with our panel of experienced solicitors if they believe you could be eligible for compensation.
Causes Of Manual Handling Accidents
Manual lifting accidents could be caused in various ways, such as trying to carry an object that weighs an excessive amount or carrying it incorrectly. However, in order to claim, the accident in which you sustained harm must have been caused by your employer’s negligence.
For example, your employer may have failed to provide you with sufficient regular breaks between repetitive lifting. As a result, over time you may have developed a musculoskeletal disorder.
Alternatively, you may have had a slip or fall on an object that obstructed your path due to your employer failing to keep the workspace clear.
It’s important to note that not all manual handling accidents are caused by employers’ negligence. Other causes might include:
- Attempting to carry a heavy object that you’ve been told to avoid
- Bending, twisting, or crouching incorrectly (despite appropriate training) to grasp and carry an object
- Not resting when you’ve been advised to
Under the Limitation Act 1980, people who are injured in an accident at work generally have three years to start a personal injury claim.
This timescale starts from the date of the accident or the time that you first become aware of the injuries being linked to negligence (also known as the ‘date of knowledge’). This can be particularly important for industrial diseases such as asbestosis or asthma that may reveal themselves later.
However, there are exceptions such as for those under the age of 18 and those who have a reduced mental capacity. For more information, please get in touch on the number above.
After a manual handling accident at work, there are several steps you can take to give yourself the best opportunity of attending to your injury properly and laying the foundation for a successful personal injury claim:
Firstly, attend to your injury by seeking medical attention. Ensuring you receive the correct treatment for your injuries can prevent any complications from developing further down the line. Also, any medical reports can be used to provide evidence of the treatment and diagnosis you received.
Secondly, you should gather other evidence of the manual handling accident, such as:
- Records of the accident in the workplace accident book
- CCTV footage of the area where your accident happened if possible
- Witness details
All of this evidence can strengthen your claim for compensation.
Payouts for a manual handling accident consider two types of impact: health and finances. As such, your claim may comprise general and special damages.
General damages provide compensation for your physical and psychological injuries. The amount you receive will depend on different factors unique to your claim, such as:
- The pain and suffering caused
- How the injury has impacted the quality of your life
- The risk of future health problems as a consequence.
In order to determine the full extent of your condition, you may be asked to attend an independent medical appointment with an impartial GP or specialist skilled in providing reports of this kind. The report produced from the medical exam can list the extent and severity of your injury.
Alongside the report and other medical evidence, solicitors can use a publication called the Judicial College Guidelines to value your injuries. This document provides award brackets of various injuries at differing levels of severity.
We have created a table using figures from this publication to give you an idea of how much your injuries may be worth. However, please be aware that compensation always varies according to individual circumstances and it’s possible you could get more or less.
|One foot is amputated with the ankle joint lost.
|£83,960 to £109,650
|Severe: (iii) Disc lesions/fractures or soft tissue injuries that result in severe pain and discomfort, despite undergoing treatment.
|£38,780 to £69,730
|A severely disabling elbow injury.
|£39,170 to £54,830
|(b) Where an injury has caused a permanent disability but there is still some useful movement.
|£24,500 to £39,170
|Less severe: Injuries to the elbow such as impaired function but no requirement for surgery.
|£15,650 to £32,010
|Moderate: (i) A torn cartilage or meniscus, or a dislocation that results in minor instability, weakness and wasting.
|£14,840 to £26,190
|Following repair, there will be a limitation on physical activities and the person will suffer from continuing pain.
|£14,900 to £24,170
|Serious: A dislocated shoulder with damage to the lower part of the lumbar vertebrae that causes neck and shoulder pain.
|£12,770 to £19,200
|Serious: The great toe has been crushed or two or more toes have been fractured that causes discomfort and pain.
|£9,600 to £13,740
|Minor: Fractures that fully recover within 6 months.
|Up to £4,750
As well as general damages, your claim may also comprise special damages. After an accident and injury, it’s possible to notice unwanted and unforeseen costs flooding in. Special damages reimburse you for any past or future monetary losses that the accident causes.
With this in mind, you could claim back any of the following:
- Lost wages or income because of time you had to take off work
- Impact on your staff attendance bonus or pension contributions
- Extra child care requirements
- Adaptations to your home or lifestyle
- Travel costs to doctor appointments
- Chiropractor or physiotherapy costs that the NHS couldn’t cover
- Painkillers and expense medical requirements
You could claim for any of these in your manual lifting accident compensation claim with the right evidence in the form of bills, statements, invoices, proof of purchase, or receipts.
Anyone is free to start their own claim for personal injury after a manual lifting accident. It is not a legal requirement to have a solicitor do it for you. But if you do hire a personal injury specialist, they have the expertise to calculate your claim as part of the services they offer.
Furthermore, costs for back injuries and other injuries could incur over a number of years, depending on the severity of your condition. An experienced solicitor can predict future costs and ensure that you claim the fullest amount due to you now and in the months to come.
If you are ready to start a personal injury claim for a manual handling accident, we can help. At Public Interest Lawyers, we aim to connect you with lawyers who could help you with a No Win No Fee agreement.
Under this arrangement, you could be represented without having to pay an upfront lawyer’s fee. If your case is successful, a success fee is paid to the lawyer: it’s a small percentage of your settlement. This fee is capped by law and is something you’re made aware of before your claim begins.
If your case fails, there are no lawyer fees to pay. No Win No Fee offers you the opportunity to access legal representation for your manual handling accident claim with reduced financial risk.
If you’d like to claim on this basis, get in touch with our team. An advisor could connect you with a lawyer from our panel to represent your claim. For more information, use the details below to get in touch:
- Call us on 0800 408 7825
- Contact us by filling out our online form
- Use the ‘live support’ option for instant and free consultation
Below we have included some useful guides related to personal injury claims and useful external resources.
How to claim compensation for a child accident in a public place.
Claiming compensation for a head injury sustained in the workplace.
A guide on No Win No Fee legal representation.
Visit the NHS website for any medical advice.
See the HSE website for workplace health and safety statistics.
If you need any more advice on making a manual handling accident claim, don’t hesitate to reach out to our advisors.
Article by EI