I enjoy learning how other countries handle the same legal problems we encounter here, so I welcome guest posts from around the world. This one concerns on-the-job injuries in the United Kingdom.
The post is from Chelsey Lewis, who studies and researches about personal injury compensation and medical negligence claims, especially those relating to personal injury and those arising in healthcare settings. She lives in the United Kingdom and when she’s not reading about clinical negligence, she enjoys walking with her two dogs in the park and reading crime books in her leafy back garden.
If you have injured your back in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you may wish to consider applying for back injuries compensation. This will help you recover any costs you faced as a result of the injury and will also see you compensated for the pain and suffering you experienced.
However, as well as back injuries compensation, you might want to think about how health and safety regulations could have prevented you from becoming hurt. This will depend on the circumstances of your accident and what failings led to it.
Health and safety regulations – slips, trips and falls
Occasionally, solicitors see back injury claims caused by slips, trips and falls. These can occur both indoors, due to hazards such as clutter in walkways, slippery floors, uneven flooring, loose carpets and trailing wires, or outdoors due to potholes, frosty ground or slippery litter.
Most of the time, these falls result in spraining to the back or bruising, and people should recover after a few weeks. However, the elderly and infirm or people with weakened bone conditions such as osteoporosis could fracture bones and suffer more long-lasting injuries.
Health and safety regulations call for employers to control the risk of slips, trips and falls and for employees to avoid posing hazards to other workers or members of the public. Furthermore, suppliers and manufacturers must ensure any products they produce are safe and do not pose any serious risk of people slipping or falling due to them.
This means flooring should be kept free of clutter and in a safe condition and that people should be able to walk around safely. Businesses that fail in this regard can be liable to pay back injuries compensation when people hurt their back in a fall.
Manual handling leading to back injury compensation claims
A large number of back injury compensation cases involve errors made in manual handling. Bending over awkwardly, twisting, over-stretching, over-use of muscles and lifting heavy objects poorly can cause sprains, pulled muscles, pinched nerves and other forms of back damage. These usually occur as part of an accident at work, but can also happen when volunteering or when helping friends out.
There are dozens of health and safety regulations relating to manual handling – the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, when properly adhered to, can limit the possibility of people succeeding in back injury compensation cases against their employers.
Businesses must try and limit the amount of manual handling their staff do and should minimize the risk of injury these tasks pose. This could involve providing equipment that can be used to move items around, reducing the weight of items that must be handled, and training staff in how to lift heavy objects without injuring themselves.
Health and safety regulations and sitting
Employees have a responsibility to take care of their own health and safety and will be unlikely to be able to succeed in back injury compensation claims if they have failed to do so. As a result, people whose job requires them to spend a long time sitting – such as office workers or drivers – should be sure to take breaks regularly and to stretch whenever possible. Computer workers must ensure that they are positioned in a safe manner at their desks and that they do not slouch. They should also cooperate with their employer if their business brings in any strategies to reduce risk.
If you believe you are suffering from back pain as a result of your working environment, you should talk to your employer about this problem. Not only will this give you the best chance of success should you have to make a back injury compensation claim against them, but it will also enable the business to alter working practices to prevent your injury from worsening and to prevent your colleagues from sustaining similar injuries.
Health and safety regulations call for your employer to keep an eye on you to ensure that your back recovers and that any initiatives they have put in place to prevent the injury from worsening are working. If your injury has caused you to take time off work, you should be able to recover lost wages through back injury compensation claims, while your employer should be willing to ensure that your health is not worsened by your job. This could involve altering your tasks or working environment so that they put less strain on your back, or providing a variety of tasks so that you are not repetitively moving the same body parts.
Personal injury solicitors will be able to help you in your compensation case and can tell you your realistic chances of success and the size of the settlement you will likely receive.