Back Injury At Work – Can You Claim Compensation?

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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. These can have long-lasting implications, and as such, compensation amounts in workplace back injury claims can be fairly substantial.

Table of contents

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.

This applies whether you are loading and unloading deliveries, an NHS or care worker handling patients, shifting stock in a shop, or simply moving boxes in an office.

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.

If your employer refuses you access to the accident book, you should contact us for advice. There are still things you can do if no record of the accident has been made.

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 injuryCompensation 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 .

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Comments & Questions

Read on for questions and advice about claiming, plus work back injury claim examples...

I am a hgv driver delivering heavy windows, doors etc with weights upto 160kg for we have a fleet of 3 artic trailers with no tail lifts. My back has been hurting for the last 2 months but carried on as can’t afford to take time off, however on Fri my back was so bad I couldn’t put on my socks and in agony, the nature of our job and that they expect us to get these products from a 4ft drop from the back of the lorry to ground level. And pushing them the whole length of the trailer to get them off, They have admitted that they have failed in health and safety and providing us with safe ways of unloading, I am currently off sick but unsure if paid or not.
Also awaiting further investigation medically.
It was logged that my back was hurting a few weeks ago in the book, I have tonnes of pics with the weights shown on the windows etc and also witness statements along with a letter from our health and safety department saying we know we have failed but are working hard to resolve the issues raised.
Do you think I have a claim?

Ian Morris

Yes, we do believe that you have a valid claim against your employer on the grounds of negligence.

It is common for people to have concerns about claiming compensation as a result of an injury at work, but we can help you to understand your rights. You have a legal right to make a claim against your employer’s insurance cover if you believe that they could have prevented your injury – which would appear to be the case. Making a legitimate claim such as yours does not jeopardise your employment or that of your colleagues. All of our claims are made on a No Win No Fee basis, so claimants pay no costs whatsoever if their claim fails. If the claim is successful, the claimant will obtain compensation for the injuries sustained (based on medical evidence and their recovery or otherwise). They will also be able to recover lost income if they don’t get paid whilst taking enforced leave from work as a result of their injuries.

Our view in this scenario is that your employer has been negligent and that they are responsible for your injuries. Your employer appears to have failed in their obligation to minimise the risk of employee injury at work and it seems that your employer admits to this. The weights of the items you mention and the method of moving them/delivering seems to breach duty.

In terms of your salary or pay whilst you are absent from work, the law does not require the employer to pay your usual salary unless you have a contract with them that provides this benefit. If you do not get paid whilst away, you may be entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP). You can recover your lost pay with a claim for personal injury compensation. If you do get paid, you could still make a claim for the injury and the impact on your day-to-day life, mobility, independence and hobbies etc.

An important benefit of making a claim is that a Solicitor will instruct a medical expert to assess you to provide a detailed long term prognosis for the benefit of your claim. This ensures that if your injury is likely to be long term or permanent, an appropriate settlement will be obtained. You do have 3 years to make a claim (but it is important to avoid delaying making a claim if you can). If you leave making a claim for anything more than 2 & 1/2 years of the 3 year period, you will struggle to find a Solicitor able to assist on a No Win No Fee basis, leaving you at risk of being statute barred and not able to make a claim.

If you would like a no obligation conversation with Justin or Ian, please phone us on 01225430285 – or respond with your contact number and we’ll call you to explain how our Solicitors could help you and answer any questions you may have.


My injury happened as a result of lifting at work two years ago during which time I have had two spinal surgeries and I am still having problems. My company have paid me for the substantial time I have had off work even though I am not entitled to sick pay, would this affect my claim for compensation if I went ahead?

Ian Morris

Whether or not you have received pay during a period of absence from work is not relevant to whether or not you can pursue or succeed with a claim for personal injury compensation and your pay will not have any negative implications for any claim you wish to pursue.

Claimants have a period of 3 years from the date of an injury sustained at work within which they can seek to make a claim. As 2 years have already passed in your case, the biggest issue facing your claim and your prospects of succeeding is time. Although you do have 3 years, Solicitors generally need a minimum of 6 months of that period to remain open to enable them to pursue the matter on a No Win No Fee basis. With this in mind, if you do wish to pursue a claim, we strongly advise that you contact us at the earliest opportunity to get the ball rolling.

The fact that your employers have paid your usual salary is a positive thing and does reflect well on them in that they have prevented you from having the added stress of a lost income to cope with whilst attempting to recover from a painful injury. In this case, the only impact that your employers decision to pay you will have on your claim is that the loss of income element of any settlement you obtain is likely to be nil – unless there are future loss of income considerations to be made in pursuit of your claim.


My employer bought a new van and its causing me back , neck and backside ache everyday,I have told them about the problem but the reply is to stop moaning.
I dont want to leave my job but am worried the back problems will continue as I will be driving the van for at least the next 3 years.

Ian Morris

It is unlikely that you would be able to establish that the vehicle in question is unduly dangerous or that the employer has been negligent. If the vehicle is unmodified and legally roadworthy, it would not seem that you can take any action.


I had a lifting injury at work. I have torn a tendon and ruptured my biceps. I went straight to hospital & I am now under the physio and could maybe need an operation It has been put in accident book but I am still under the hospital because the swelling isn’t reducing.

My employer has said that I cannot claim because I didn’t put it in accident on site, but went straight to hospital. I then put it in the employers accident book, but they’ve since said I should have not lifted the block on the metal, but I have never been told this or never had a manual handling course. Our work has always involved lifting. Where do I stand?

Ian Morris

You have valid grounds to pursue a claim and we would love to help you to exercise your right and seek compensation for the painful injury and recover your lost income. The accident book issue is not of concern, but your employers failure to provide adequate manual handling training is! Our Solicitors can assist you on a No Win No Fee basis. Please call us on 01225430285 or if you prefer, request a call from us via our website.


I have had a bad back know for 10yrs roughly which I believe it could have been avoided as been with same company for 21 years and had only two manual handing courses in that time. The last 3 yrs back has been getting worse, I have had one steroid injection which employer is aware off late 2021 and is getting worse. Spoken to boss and said if I can’t do the job then leave. I have refused on several occasions to do dangerous lifting like carrying 100kg up stairs with two of us, and dragging heavy equipment off a van which weighs about 200 kg, sometimes heavier. The time has come to have an operation which I found out February this year and worried that I will lose my job, and the issue is I am still working, I have to stand on hard concrete Floor now for 9 hrs a day with lifting machines on a hydraulic work bench which has only been serviced once in 21 yrs. I have I sheet of evidence of wrong health and safety issues and believe this is now going to affect the rest off my life, and worried I will lose job once I tell him I need an operation, is there anything I can do?

Ian Morris

Sadly, the courts are likely to find that you are outside of the 3 year claim limitation period – even though your symptoms appeared to have worsened in the past 2-3 years. As such, it is highly unlikely that any Solicitor would be able to offer you a No Win No Fee service to pursue your claim as there is a high prospect that you would not be able to succeed in the time that has lapsed.


My company show no due diligence or duty of care in regards to my back,
I’ve had 2 occasions where this has further injured my back which has lead me to take time off work.
One was repeatedly sent to work with no risk assessment (we now have one with a predated date on it) one driver was suspended for refusing to work without it, and another repeated requests to not drive a particular vehicle because of the seats ignored then deducted 5 hours pay due to the injury as I had to go home injured – I’ve got two sets of occupational health both stating my back issue (on that day my request for other duties was ignored) and on my return I was ignored – do I have a case?

Ian Morris

You may well have a case and we feel that your enquiry warrants detailed consideration by our specialist Solicitors. We have reached out to you for some further information by email. As soon as we have that, we’ll get one of our specialist Solicitors to contact you to discuss this potential claim for compensation in more detail with you.


I started a job at a sofa/furniture company September last year, part-time with two of us sharing the hours. no manual handling training was provided just a “trial” shift unloading a truck full of sofas. No accident book was ever mentioned to me at any point during my time working although we were provided with trolleys to move sofas and furniture in and out from warehouse to vehicle, the terrain outside the warehouse were incredibly rough and bumpy and lifting furniture and sofas from the ground is inevitable which I believe due to the heavy lifting and repetitive nature of the work has left me with 2 herniated disks that has bed ridden me for 6 weeks and needing surgery. I’m not sure if I have a claim but I just know I tried my best to do my job and now I live in constant pain and discomfort anxious about everything I do incase it flares up my sciatica and I end up bed ridden again. I stopped working as soon as an mri confirmed it was a prolapsed disks during February.

Ian Morris

Lifting of such items if done unsafely could certainly cause injury and spinal damage. This is why employers are mandated to provide manual handling training and ensure that appropriate equipment and assistance is provided so that workers can work safely.

In your case, it would seem that your employer has failed to uphold their duty of care and it is certainly reasonable for you to therefore want to pursue a claim for personal injury compensation. Given your description of your injury and the work you were doing, we would like to speak with you to find out a little more and advise as to whether you can make a claim for personal injury compensation.


I am a white goods Engineer and I damaged my lower back a few days ago at work and have done it again. The company provides no private health care or any other benefits towards your well-being. Appliances can weigh from 60-90kg. In-house manual handling training was provided. Do you have any advice on this matter?

Ian Morris

Although your employer has provided manual handling training, it would appear that they have then provided a working environment which prevents you from following the advice and guidance provided in the training. The weight of the items you have mention far exceeds the same individual lifting limit of 25kg’s and if you are expected to move items of up to 90kg’s without assistance or equipment and sustain injury as a result, your employer has been negligent.


I hurt my back at work pulling 2 metre pallets to private addresses which drag the floor when you get them off your tail lift and can be as heavy as 1 ton in weight, can i claim?

Ian Morris

Did your employer provide you with the appropriate training to enable to you lift and move such weight safely and did they provide the correct amount of assistance and the right equipment to enable safe moving of the items being delivered?

If not, we can establish employer negligence and assist you to make a claim for personal injury compensation.


No manual handling course, no contract, no terms of employment. Hurt my back over three weeks ago now, lifting heavy goods to be sent to customer. I am always sent to do the packing as I am big in stature, my probation period ended (three months) 21st May. Upon which I was to receive pay rise and full time contract. Due to not receiving this, I don’t want to rock the boat and potentially loose my job. I’ve not worked for a long time due to mental health issues, including depression, anxiety to name but a few. Self certificated for first week, then signed off by doctor for the last two weeks. Any help appreciated!

Ian Morris

You have up to 3 years to make a claim, so you do have time on your side and don’t have to start your claim now or even in the next few months. With this in mind, it is vital that you make sure that a written record of your injury at work is made with the employer and you should also cite a lack of manual handling training or adequate support.

If you do make a claim, it would be against your employers mandatory insurance cover and not against the employer directly.


I work for a carpet company and 8 months ago moved to a new warehouse.
We still have no forklift and at times are expected to manually move rolls of carpet.
These rolls weigh anywhere between 100kg and 300kg.
I am off work at the moment after injuring my back.
My boss and managers have been repeatedly told of our concerns.

Ian Morris

You have a valid claim for compensation as a result of your employers negligence. Our specialist Solicitor can assist you on a No Win No Fee basis.


I work in a furniture department of a store. I was brought a pallet to unload onto the shop floor. I have been given a manual handling course. The pallet was stacked over 5 foot high – taller than me. The items on it were large and heavy, so I asked for them to be lifted off for me. The next item was in a smaller box at about shoulder level to me. I took hold of the box and brought it to my chest and continued to pull the box to me. On getting the box to the edge and taking the weight, the weight took me by surprise, knocking me flat on my back, winding me, which was very frightening and I had hurt by back, buttocks and wrist. An accident report was made but no offer of first add or assistance to get home was given.

Ian Morris

Whilst employers have a duty of care to ensure that employees are appropriately trained and given manual handling guidance, the employer must also ensure that the working environment is safe and that it is possible to follow the guidance of the training. In the scenario you have described, there is likely to be reasonable grounds for you to pursue a claim against your employers insurance as the pallet you were unloading appears to have been loaded dangerously and in a way that makes it impossible for you to lift or work safely.

If you would like to discuss making a No Win No Fee claim for compensation, please call us on 01225430285.


I work in the construction industry with my dad. It’s my dad that I’m asking the question for as he’s not too familiar with computers. He has been fencing for 40+ years with the same company, and has a level amount of loyalty toward them. He has had time off in previous years here and there due to his bad back, but it is progressively getting worse and I’m rather worried in a year he won’t even be able to walk. If he can’t walk, he can’t do his job, if he can’t do his job he’ll have no income. His back pain is from years of service and not just an individual moment. Will he be able to claim?

Ian Morris

Has your Father been given training regarding safe lifting and moving manual handling? Does the employer ensure that no workers are expected to lift items exceeding the safe lifting limit and is the working environment a safe one? If you can answer ‘no’ to any of these initial questions, then there is merit in further discussing this matter with your Father and for our Solicitors to investigate the potential to pursue a claim.


I am a delivery driver at a warehouse and as i was loading my van up i picked a heavy item up from a very low point in a large tub to place on my van, i done damage to my back and have had 6 weeks off work due to a vertabrae fracture in the middle of my back, also i’m only being paid ssp which is crippling can you give me any advice thanks

Ian Morris

If the item that you were lifting was of a considerable weight, the item should have been labelled as such so that you would be aware and could lift the item in such a way (with assistance or machinery) that you would not sustain injury. If it was not labelled, you may well have a valid claim. Further, if the workplace has failed to give you appropriate manual handling training, or if the working environment is such that it is impossible to work within the parameters of safe lifting, then you can make a claim for personal injury compensation.

We suggest that you make further contact with us as it would appear that you are likely to have grounds to pursue a claim. If successful, you would be entitled to a compensation settlement that would include a financial value for the injury you have sustained (which would be based on medical evidence and recovery prognosis) and importantly, to recover your lost income or incurred costs.

Our No Win No Fee service affords you the opportunity to seek to uphold your rights after an accident at work, without the worry of legal costs should the matter fail.


I hurt my back at work when I picked up a bucket, I felt a very strong pain in my lower back that immobilized my legs and hips. I went to the hospital and they said it was sciatica but I had to go to the gp. At the gp my doctor said that I have disc prolapse and that I also have spondylolisthesis. I’ve been out of work since December 1st and with treatment and doing physiotherapy. I am not able to do my job and I have constant pain that is preventing me from leading my life normally. I feel very frustrated because this happened at work because I work constantly under stress and with broken machines, otherwise this would not have happened. I have bills to pay and I have ssp right now and I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life. What can I do in this case? I think it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that everything is working properly and that we have working conditions.

Ian Morris

You are totally right in that the employer is obliged to ensure that the working environment is as safe as it can be and that the risks of injury to employees is minimised. In this case, the broken/not working equipment is clearly a failure on the part of your employer and you have a right to pursue a claim for your serious back injury against their insurance cover.

If successful with your claim, our Solicitors would recover your loss of income and also a compensation settlement appropriate for the pain and distress caused to you by your back injury.


I trained as a nurse from 1978 to 1981, I now have chronic back pain. During my early years as a nurse,I had no manual handling training, and no equipment to lift patients in or out of bed or bath,or to assist with toileting needs. I now have long standing back pain, can you help me?

Ian Morris

There are a couple of obvious hurdles that may prevent you from pursuing a claim in this case. Firstly, we need to look at causation – that is to establish a causal link between your back pain and the work you were doing. Whilst the work would have been physical, a defendant would likely argue that the problems you are having are age/wear and tear related rather than due to the work you were doing. As there hasn’t been a one off trauma, it will be hard for a medical expert to establish the causal link and your claim would likely be finished as a result. We also need to look at limitation. Claimants MUST make a claim within 3 years of the date of an accident, or in this case the date at which they knew, or ought to have known that their injury was work related. With this in mind, if you first developed symptoms over 3 years ago, you are likely to be statute barred and unable to take this further.


I am a self employed contractor who contracts to a company on a self employed basis. Recently I pulled/tore an upper back muscle at work, I was lifting safely using the correct manual handling procedures and pulled it moving one 20kg box from one trolley to another, the company I was at when it happened would not put it in their accident book and said it had to go through the company I subcontract for.
I called and spoke on the phone and have no idea if it has been recorded or not but i did make my own records of it.
The job I do involves a lot of heavy lifting and if I am instructed by doctors not to lift anything or to be on light duties per say, there is a high chance I will not be able to continue working. Any advice where i stand? Cheers

Ian Morris

It is clearly important that the injury is recorded correctly. The workplace on the day should have allowed you to make a record of it and the company who sub-contracted you should have also recorded the details. You should make your own written report of the injury and send a copy to both parties, requesting that they record the details.

Whether or not you would be in a position to pursue a claim is unclear as it appears that you were not being asked to lift an item that exceeds the safe limit and you state that you were following the correct manual handling training guidance. As such, unless the workplace environment meant that it was impossible to work safely, it is hard to see how you could pursue a claim.


Hi – My other half went to work for a company last year- He was made to carry a crate of 20 bottles of 4 pint milk which I work out equated to about 7 stone, he was made to carry it with no assistance from a barrow, another person etc . He then as a result suffered an injury to his back on the saturday of that week, the employer dismissed him the same day saying he could not handle the heavy lifting. A member of staff had been off with a bad back before. He had no induction, no manual handling training, they did not get him to fill in any forms or show him where the accident book was. He went to A&E who told him that it was torn ligaments. Do we have a case – this happened in October 2021. Thank you

Ian Morris

Our initial view is that your partner has a valid claim for personal injury compensation as the employer appears to have breached their safety at work obligations, with specific regard to manual handling training.

Our specialist Solicitors can act for your partner on a No Win No Fee basis. Please call us on 01225430285 and we’ll have this matter pursued for you.


I work in a kitchen as a pastry chef where I lift heavy mixers several times a day moving them from one end to the other side of the kitchen. Over time I’ve developed bad pains in my groin that had now moved from my groin in to my back and legs. I’m now signed off work under medical investigation. I’m in unbearable pain everyday. Although I’ve done online training on manual handling, we are still expected to lift and transfer items beyond our strength – such as the mixer.

Ian Morris

Providing training is only one part of an employers responsibility to ensure that the risks of injury through manual handling in the workplace are minimised. Along with training, an employer must also ensure that the working environment enables staff to follow the guidance given in any manual handling training and that the items that staff are expected to lift and move, can be lifted and moved safely by a staff member.

In your case, our Solicitors can discuss the situation in detail and potentially pursue a claim against your employer for the pain and discomfort caused to you along with recovery of any lost income.


Hi there, I recently suffered from a back injury at my workplace. The job require us to lift 30kg kegs and other items mostly by ourselves. This due to the fact that there’s only one person scheduled to work. The company has failed to provide me with any training for heavy lifting in the past year that I’ve been working here. They have also failed to update the way they operate. This is now the 3rd time I have been injured and had to take time off work, without pay. Every time I have reported this issue to the manager, but nothing has changed. Would my claim be valid?

Ian Morris

The lifting you describe indicates that you have a valid claim for personal injury compensation. It would seem that your employer has been negligent on more than one count, including their failure to provide adequate manual handling training and inadequate equipment.

Make sure that your injury at work is recorded in writing as that will provide useful evidence to support a Solicitor in due course.

Chat with us for friendly, expert advice 01225 430285