Injuries caused by manual handling and heavy lifting in the workplace are fairly common occurrences that can lead to long-term musculoskeletal injuries including sprains, strains and tears. While manual handling is required in many jobs, employers should look at ways of risking associated injuries to their workforce. If you’ve been injured at work because your employer failed to protect you properly, this article on manual handling claims will explain when you might be able to claim compensation. We’ll explain how the claims process works and what manual handling injuries you could claim for.
We have a team of specialists who can help if you’d like to review your chances of being compensated. They’ll conduct a no-obligation consultation where you can ask any questions and you’ll receive free legal advice. If it looks like you have a fair chance of receiving compensation for manual handling injuries, they’ll refer you to one of our personal injury lawyers. If they agree to work for you, you won’t need to pay legal fees upfront as they’ll manage your claim on a No Win, No Fee basis.
Please continue reading if you’d like to learn more about your options or give us a call on 0800 652 1345 to discuss your claim right away.
What is an employer’s duty of care regarding manual handling?
In any workplace, employers have a legal duty of care to take reasonable steps to try and keep their staff as safe as possible because of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. With regard to manual handling, separate legislation exists to protect staff further. According to the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, employers must:
- Avoid dangerous manual handling tasks as far as is reasonably possible; then
- Review any dangerous manual handling tasks that can’t be avoided; and then
- Reduce the risk of a member of staff being injured as far is reasonably practical.
This means that employers need to conduct regular risk assessments and look at alternative ways of moving bulky, awkward, heavy or dangerous loads. If an alternative method of moving those loads can’t be found, staff should be properly trained regularly about how to move the load as safely as possible without risking injury to themselves.
What employers can do to reduce the chances of injuries at work
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), employers should consider:
- The type of load that needs to be moved.
- The individual’s capabilities.
- Work organisation.
- Environmental conditions.
If there is no other option but to move loads manually, employers should:
- Reduce the amount of reaching, stooping or twisting required by adapting the layout of storage areas (warehouses, storerooms etc).
- Try to prevent loads from being lifted from floor height to above shoulder height.
- Look at reducing carrying distances.
- Consider the weight of the load and work out if the employee needs help or whether the load can be moved in smaller parts.
If your employer has failed to assess the risk of you being injured while lifting at work, please get in touch to see if you could file a manual handling claim for your injuries.
Can I claim compensation for a manual handling injury?
A manual handling claim is a type of personal injury claim. Before one of our solicitors can agree to represent you, they will need to check whether:
- Your employer breached their duty of care towards your safety at work; because
- They were negligent in some way; and
- As a result, you sustained a manual handling injury.
If you contact our advisors about your manual handling claim, they’ll check whether it looks like your employer breached their duty of care and as such entitled to compensation.
Negligence leading to manual handling claims
You could be entitled to start a manual handling claim if:
- Your employer failed to look at lifting aids to make your role easier.
- You were not allowed regular rest breaks and you needed to lift loads for prolonged periods.
- You were not trained on safe manual handling techniques or that training was out of date.
- Equipment provided to help you move loads was damaged, faulty or poorly maintained.
- You were forced to move loads that were too heavy for you.
- If your employer failed to act if you explained that you were struggling or were injured.
If any of the above scenarios matches your own and you believe you have a valid manual handling claim, please speak to our team today.
Common injuries in manual handling claims
If you sustain any type of injury caused by manual handling at work, it could lead to a compensation payment if your employer was responsible in some way. Some of the most common manual handling injuries that could result in a claim include:
- Muscle, tendon or ligament strains, sprains or tears.
- Soft tissue injuries to wrists, arms, legs, shoulders or the neck.
- Chronic pain.
- Back injuries including slipped or herniated discs.
What are the common causes of manual handling injuries?
These above types of manual handling injuries commonly result from:
- Awkward posture over a prolonged period.
- Repetitive movements.
- Unstable, unbalanced or loads that are hard to hold.
- Exposure to sustained vibration.
- Sustained, repeated or high amounts of force.
If you believe you are at risk of suffering a manual handling injury, you should speak with your manager or supervisor in the first instance. This could lead to them making changes to your role to reduce any health risks. They may also call in an occupational health therapist to consider any alternative methods of working that could improve the situation.
Industries and roles most at risk of injuries from manual handling
It is possible to sustain a manual handling injury in just about any type of job. However, workers in the following jobs or industries might be more likely to make a manual handling claim:
- Construction workers.
- Care home staff.
- Nurses and porters.
- Transport workers.
- Factory workers.
- Agricultural workers.
Please get in touch if you have sustained a manual handling injury and you believe that your employer should compensate you for your suffering.
How much compensation for manual handling injuries can I claim?
When claiming compensation for manual handling injuries, you’ll look at how you’ve suffered and if your injuries have led to financial losses. As each claim is unique, we can’t put a value on your claim until your injuries have been properly assessed. However, if your claim is successful, it could include compensation that covers:
- The physical pain caused by your injuries both in the short term and long term.
- Any impact on your mental health such as depression caused by your injuries – See our page on psychological injury claims.
- Any effect your injuries have on your normal social activities, family life or hobbies – See our page on loss of amenity compensation.
- Income lost as a result of not being able to work. If you suffer a longer-term injury, you could also be compensated for future loss of earnings too.
- The time spent by somebody else supporting you while you were injured.
- Private physiotherapy costs or hospital treatment.
- Travel expenses linked to your medical treatment (or similar).
- Any modifications needed at home or to your vehicle to help you deal with long-term manual handling injuries.
As you can see, there is a lot to consider when making a manual handling claim. If you work with one of our specialist solicitors, they’ll work hard to fully understand the impact of your injuries so that they can try to secure the maximum level of compensation possible.
Medical assessments for injuries at work
In any work injury claim, you will need to prove the extent of your suffering. As such, for a manual handling claim, you will need to have a medical assessment with an independent expert. Your solicitor can usually arrange this locally.
During your appointment, the expert will review any medical records available to them, examine your injuries and talk about how you’ve suffered. They’ll then prepare a report for all parties involved in your claim that sets out your prognosis.
Will I be disciplined for claiming against my employer?
Legally, you are entitled to sue anybody who causes you an injury through negligence. Additionally, so long as your claim is legitimate, your employer is not allowed to discipline you, fire you or treat you any differently for suing them.
As such, you shouldn’t be afraid of claiming if you’ve suffered manual handling injuries at work. If your claim is handled by one of our solicitors, they’ll manage all communication with your employer so you won’t need to discuss it with them directly.
Providing proof for a manual handling claim
If you decide to claim against your employer, they’re likely to simply pass the case to their insurance company. That means that you will need to convince them about a) how you were injured, b) why your employer was to blame and c) how you’ve suffered. If you can do so, you could receive a compensation payout.
To improve your chances of winning a manual handling claim, the following proof could prove useful:
- Medical records. Having your diagnosis confirmed by a doctor should mean a proper treatment plan will be set up. Additionally, your medical records and x-rays could be used to support your claim.
- Accident report forms. Legally, your employer will need to record details of your injuries in an accident report book. Your copy of the report could help to prove what happened.
- Photographic evidence. Taking pictures of your working conditions, the loads you were moving or the tools you were provided with can be used to demonstrate the cause of your injuries.
- Emails and correspondence. If you told your employer about your concerns or your injuries, any emails or letters you received in reply should be considered your solicitor.
- Witness statements. Additionally, statements from colleagues relating to your working conditions can be helpful if your employer denies your version of events.
- Financial records. Finally, to claim back any expenses or losses incurred because of your injuries, it’s a good idea to forward wage slips, receipts and bank statements to your employer.
When you call for a free assessment of your claim, your advisor will review any proof you have during the call.
Is there a time limit for manual handling claims?
When making a personal injury claim, there is a standard 3-year time limit. For manual handling claims, this will start from the date of your accident if your manual handling injuries were obvious immediately or from your date of knowledge if your injuries weren’t diagnosed until a later date.
There are some benefits to beginning the claims process sooner rather than later including:
- Proof-gathering is usually a lot easier.
- Your solicitor will have plenty of time to arrange for medical reports.
- You might be paid an interim payment before the claim is finalised to cover lost income or to pay for physiotherapy or other immediate medical costs.
No Win, No Fee claims
You shouldn’t be put off from claiming compensation for a manual handling injury because you’re worried about paying solicitor’s fees. That’s because ours work on a No Win, No Fee basis for any claim they work on.
As a result, you won’t be asked to pay any legal fees upfront or if the claim fails. If the claim is won, a success fee that is limited to 25% will be deducted from any settlement payment to cover the cost of your solicitor’s work.
Your solicitor will document all of the above in a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA) for you to sign before the claim begins.
Start a manual handling claim today
Our advisors are ready to help if you’re interested in starting a manual handling claim. Simply call them on 0800 652 1345 and your case will be reviewed for free. There’s no obligation to proceed and you’ll be given free legal advice regardless of what you want to do next.
Our solicitors handle all manual handling claims on a No Win, No Fee basis meaning no legal fees are payable unless you’re awarded compensation.
Please call or use our live chat service if you have any other questions on the manual handling claims process.