Despite there being a number of regulations in place for the safety of employees, lifting accidents still remain a common occurrence within many work environments. If you are involved in an accident it is important to look at all the factors involved in your injury, as although you may think it was your fault, that may not be the case. In the past several months, a lot of injuries at work happened – only 5 in the last month in the city of San Francisco, where a bank clerk slipped on a wet floor ad sustained a back injury. The clerk tried to sue the bank and eventually the case got more attention but it is still in the processing.
Recently a highly experienced and trained nurse was injured whilst bathing a patient. Using a mechanical hoist for the patient, she then had to manoeuvre the hoist forks under the bath, and in doing so, received an injury to her back. In trial, she alleged a defect with the hoist, alongside an absence of risk assessment, but as the nurse had carried out the duty previously, the judge decided she should have been aware of the plinth it collided with.
However, in appeal it was found the employers should have conducted a risk assessment to reduce the risks to their lowest level. When it appeared that there was a risk of injury, the employer was left to show they had taken some positive steps to reduce any risks. As there were many alterations they could have done to the plinth to make it safer, the employers were therefore found liable to the injured nurse, although she also accepted some responsibility for her actions.
Often solicitors find that an employer is still responsible even when the injured parties aren’t aware of their rights. One office desk worker who had pre-existing back problems, neglected to inform his employer thinking it was none of their business. One day he was requested to help move some files to an office which was on another floor, bending and stretching to fill boxes, then move them up a flight of stairs without receiving manual handling training in this post. Later that night he started to suffer back pains.
The injured man found himself unable to return to work, but as it was a pre-existing problem, he believed he was prevented from claiming. However, he discovered as he had not had any manual handling training in this job and no risk assessment had been carried out, he was able to successfully receive compensation, despite some deductions as a result of his failure to inform his employers of what had previously been quite a serious back problem.
If your employer should ever expect you to do heavy lifting then it is imperative you receive suitable training. Furthermore your employer should risk assess to reduce the incidences of manual handling to a minimum, and use suitable lifting equipment if available.