Whatever your job, your employer has a duty to keep you from injuring your back by providing the right training, equipment and a safe working environment. Here we look at how to claim if you injure your back at work and what level of compensation you can expect. While most back injuries are usually caused by lifting heavy items or falls at work, they can also result from repetitive tasks, prolonged time in one position or poor seating that doesn’t support the spine, neck or shoulders properly. Back injuries can have long-lasting implications, and as such, compensation amounts can be fairly substantial.
Table of contents
- Employer responsibilities to ensure safe lifting at work
- If you’ve had no manual handling training and injure your back
- Can you still claim if you’ve had manual handling training?
- The maximum weight you should be lifting at work
- How to claim for a back injury at work
- What if you have a pre-existing back injury that’s made worse by your job?
- Back injury compensation amounts
- Can you be sacked for making a back injury claim?
- Comments – your questions answered
Employer responsibilities to ensure safe lifting at work
Most back injury claims arise from lifting or moving heavy items at work. All employers have a responsibility to ensure that staff members are adequately trained in how to lift items safely. Safe lifting and carrying is commonly known as manual handling training.
Your employer’s duty of care in this respect is set out by the Health & Safety Executive in the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992. This requires an employer to implement policies and procedures to ‘prevent or reduce the risk of injury’ faced by workers required to perform manual handling.
Good employers will ensure new staff undergo a basic health and safety induction to the workplace, as well as manual handling training to prevent back injuries.
As well as training new staff, employers should also ensure that existing staff are provided with regular refresher training (usually every 3 years) and updated guidance.
If you’ve had no manual handling training and injure your back
If you work for an employer who has not provided proper manual handling training, and you hurt your back lifting or moving objects, you will have a very strong work injury claim. They are putting all staff at risk of injury and could be liable to pay manual handing injury compensation as a result.
Can you still claim if you’ve had manual handling training?
Yes, you can still claim. We regularly help workers who have had manual handling training claim for back injuries. Commonly, they have been forced to work in places that prevent them lifting or moving safely, or have not been provided with the correct equipment to do so.
Providing manual handling training does not mean an employer is not responsible for any back injuries caused by lifting at work – it’s also essential to provide an environment that enables staff to work safely and in accordance with that training.
The maximum weight you should be lifting at work
Health and safety guidelines recommend that no person should attempt to lift an item that exceeds 25kgs in weight without the assistance of a second staff member or hoist.
Trolleys should also be provided to move items once lifted, as this will reduce the stress placed on the employee’s lower back.
If you work for an employer who expects you to lift items of 25kgs or more without assistance, you are likely to suffer a back injury, and if so, would have a very strong claim for compensation.
However, some types of back injury, such as a slipped disc, can be caused by lifting light items, so the weight of what you’re lifting isn’t the only factor at play.
How to claim for a back injury at work
Whatever the cause, a back injury claim will only succeed if you can prove your employer is at fault because they were negligent. In other words, that they failed to prevent or minimise the risk of a back injury. The HSE provides specific advice for employers on how to protect workers from back pain.
If you or your colleagues already warned your employer that a potential risk of back injury existed due to unsafe lifting practices, the weight of an object, a lack of equipment or otherwise, try to find a written record or witness evidence of this.
To make a claim, you will at least need to ensure that your injury is properly reported and recorded and medical treatment is received.
You should also see your GP or attend an A&E department to ensure that the details of your back injury are noted on your medical records as this will provide evidence to support your claim at a later stage.
Don’t worry if this all seems a bit complicated – if you are in any doubt about what to do and need some clear, honest advice, tell us about your situation and we’ll be glad to help.
What if you have a pre-existing back injury that’s made worse by your job?
Having a pre-existing back injury does not prevent you from claiming compensation. If it is made worse, you can claim for this aggravation. If you have a previous history of back problems reported on your medical records, they will be taken into account when determining what you can claim for.
Back injury compensation amounts
How much you can claim for a back injury at work depends on the severity of the injury and how it impacts your life. Minor soft-tissue injuries will obviously be valued lower than severe spinal injury claims.
Settlement values are comprised of what are known as general and special damages. General damages cover the injury itself and the effect it has on your life. For instance, whether the injury affects your ability to earn money, do your job, perform your usual activities outside work and how long you are likely to experience such problems. Special damages cover the financial costs you incur because of the injury – lost income, medical treatments, travel expenses, property damage, for example.
The table below provides a guide to average compensation amounts for back injuries suffered at work, not including the special damages element of a claim:
|Severity of back injury||Compensation amount|
|Severe||£36k - £151k|
|Moderate||£12k - £36k|
|Minor||£2k - £12k|
Can you be sacked for making a back injury claim?
Making a back injury claim against your employer can be a worrying prospect. You may be concerned how it will affect the business and your job security, or that of your colleagues. Rest assured, these worries are typically unfounded.
Firstly, it’s your employer’s liability insurance that will pay any compensation, rather than the business itself.
Secondly, employers are not allowed to dismiss you or threaten you with the sack for making a claim. Your employer has responsibilities to injured staff and you have rights after an injury to help you recover, which includes claiming compensation.
At Direct2Compensation making a no win no fee claim for back injury compensation is easy. With over 25 years’ experience, you can use our knowledge and expertise to get your claim off to the best start. There is no charge for assessing your case, so you have nothing to lose and much to gain if you can make a successful claim. It’s usually really quick for us to find out if you have a valid claim, just leave a question below, call us on 01225 430285, or .