Have you been injured at work, moving, lifting or carrying something? Do you know what your rights are? Over one third of serious accidents at work every year are caused by people lifting or moving something at work. Employers have a duty under the Manual Handling Regulations to take steps to ensure that employees are not injured in this way. Some of the injuries can be very debilitating and in some cases disabling. The most common injuries are spinal although the injuries can be anywhere on the body. If you or someone that you know have been injured at work then they need to know that the employer has to firstly assess the risk of injury in the operation concerned, and then if possible remove the risk completely or reduce it to a minimum.
Reducing the risk can be achieved by providing equipment to do the carrying such as a barrow or a truck. Removing the risk can be altering the task completely to avoid the need to lift. For example a cleaner carrying a machine to clean floors could be given a truck to carry the equipment on or could have the need to lift completely removed by having machines placed on different floors to avoid the need to carry altogether.
Injuries can be caused by the lift itself or by the failure to lift. For instance if an employee injures his back carrying a heavy load he could be entitled to compensation or if he drops the load on his toe he could recover damages as the need to carry could have been avoided. The failure to assess the extent of the risk will make the employers in breach of their duty to their employee. The failure to reduce the level of risk will breach the duty as will the failure to remove the risk.
Examples of Manual Handling Claims are:
- A secretary moving a computer terminal.
- A veterinary nurse being pulled by a horse on a rein injuring her back.
- A shop assistant moving a box on a counter.
- A teacher carrying books.
- A taxi driver carrying cases.
The list of potential claimants is endless. Wherever someone moves, pulls, pushes or just lifts an object at work you need to ask “has the employer assessed the extent of the risk?”. “Has the need to carry out the task been reduced?”. “Could the task have been made such that the need to lift etc could be removed altogether?”. These questions when answered can make what seems a claim without apparent remedy become one that can cost an employer dearly. These regulations are not just for manual workers – they are for everyone.