This article was published on February 8th, 2018
Suffering a back injury in the workplace can potentially lead to a long absence from work. This is detrimental to both the employee and employer.
A long layoff can potentially result in a loss of earnings depending on your employer’s sick pay policy, injury employers face the prospect of finding a replacement to cover the injured individual’s work while they are recovering.
If your job involves heavy lifting or handling heavy objects you are at a higher risk of suffering a back injury.
Employers are required by law to ensure that all employees are given extensive and rigorous training in the correct techniques to use when lifting heavy items in order to help prevent back injuries.
They are also obliged to ensure that all employees are provided with the proper equipment and protective gear and clothing to assist them in their heavy lifting duties in order to reduce the likelihood of an injury occurring.
Being educated and knowing what to do when you’re faced with a heavy lift is one of the best forms of protection against a back injury occurring in the workplace.
In order to help you prevent a back injury in the future, we’ve put together a list of measures that you can take to ensure you stay safe next time you lift, as well as how you can claim compensation if you are injured as a result of someone else’s negligence.
Firstly before you lift anything at all it’s important you plan how you’re going to lift the heavy object.
Spending a little time thinking about the lifting procedure could help you potentially save days or weeks of recovery time should you get a back injury.
Consider the weight of the object, the distance you need to carry it, whether it has firm grip holds and whether or not you’ll need additional apparatus to help you complete the lift.
Check your posture and maintain a stable position
Having bad posture when you lift can be a recipe for disaster and could leave you with a painful back injury.
When lifting there are a few steps that can be followed to ensure you have the correct posture.
Firstly, make sure you get as close as possible to the object you’re planning on lifting. Standing close to the object will decrease the amount of strain that is put on the back.
Secondly, try to avoid looking down at the object your lifting. Having your head and neck bent forward towards the object can put a lot of strain on the neck and upper back and could cause an injury. Once you have established a firm grip on the object, lift your head and look straight ahead.
Before you lift anything which has a significant weight, you should always establish a firm grip and stable stance. Your feet should be apart, keeping your feet together reduces your stability and could mean you lose your balance and cause further injury.
Also, ensure that you breathe whilst you lift. Holding your breath could result in a variety of injuries including burst blood vessels and increased blood pressure which could cause further health complications later in life.
The first thought of many people reaching down to pick something up is to bend their back. Whilst it may not cause an injury if you’re picking up a light object, bending your back whilst lifting something heavy will almost certainly injure your back in some way.
The correct way to lift something off the floor is to bend your knees and push up through your feet until your back is locked out and you’re standing up straight.
If you need to turn around or change direction, do so with your whole body, don’t just twist your back.
Also, try to keep your movements smooth. Jerking your movement can jar the bones in your spinal cord and put a sudden strain on your back muscles, both of which can cause a painful back injury.
Knowing your limits is important in the battle against back injury. There’s no need to be heroic and lift something you know you shouldn’t.
Even if your colleagues can lift an item and you can’t, don’t run the risk of injury by attempting it. Instead, ask for help either from a colleague or by using an assistive device.
Even if you take all the necessary precautions, you could still suffer a back injury at work. If this does happen, your first priority should be to seek medical attention. The last thing you want to do is exacerbate the injury by carrying on working without being cleared by a medical professional first.
If possible, get pictures of the scene of the accident as well as the load you were working with. You should also make a note of the other workers who witnessed the accident so that they can corroborate your claim if you decide to go ahead and claim compensation for your back injury.
If you have suffered a back injury and it is as a result of your employer’s negligence or as a result of the negligence of a fellow employee, you may be eligible to claim compensation.
Injuries and accidents at work are very common and can occur in any job, in any situation.
We have a dedicated personal injury team that deals with all types of workplace-related injuries and compensation claims.
Our personal injury team offer a free initial interview to assess your claim and help you decide which steps to take next.
If you would like to discuss your case with one of our personal injury specialists, please call 0800 1979 345 for free today or contact us online by clicking here and a member of our team will be in touch at a more suitable time for you.