Back injury compensation claims can arise in unusual circumstances
June 6, 2014
Back injury claims can arise in unusual circumstances but our specialist personal injury lawyers take the time to understand exactly what happened so they can prove your case for you. In a recent case, liability wasn't immediately obvious but careful thought by a personal injury solicitor at our office in Bromley, led to a successful settlement.
Our client worked in a team making up wooden roof trusses. The timber was laid out on a template on a large table (or platform) which was about 3 feet high. He assembled the trusses while standing on the floor but, in order to pin them together, he had to get up on the table.
No risk assessment had been done as the employer didn't see there was a risk of injury. But we looked at the system of work which required employees to step up and down a height which was equivalent to about 3 steps on a staircase, numerous times a day, day in day out. At some point someone had made a metal step to make it easier but in the end it wasn't used because it “got in the way”.
You could have some sympathy with the employer because our client and his workmates had done this for many years without any real problems. But it all changed when someone left and wasn't replaced. This meant each person had to work harder to keep up the same output which inevitably meant our client had to get up onto the table even more times in a day. The employer really should have thought about the system of work at that point and considered whether it would be too much to cope with for the people who were left. And in any case, all employers have a statutory duty to risk assess manual tasks and reduce the risk of injury to a minimum.
After a couple of months of this extra workload, he started to have extreme pain in his back which led to spinal surgery. We realised there was liability but we needed to prove it. We got a report from a spinal surgeon who said the work may have accelerated the problem; and then she obtained a report from a biomechanical expert who confirmed that the stepping up and down from a height of about 3 feet had put additional pressure on his back and caused the injury. The employer's insurers then settled the claim for a very satisfactory sum.
The information contained in this article is intended for general guidance only. It provides useful information but it is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice as the articles do not take into account specific circumstances. So do please Contact US for legal advice on the issues raised.