What are Manual Handling Regulations?
Your employer has a duty to take steps to reduce the chances of you suffering a manual handling injury at work, so they must:
- Assess the type of lifting activity you’re required to do as part of your job
- Consider your suitability to carry out this task - if the item is deemed too heavy to lift on your own or is too awkward a shape, then your employer must think of another way of lifting it, such as using a forklift or pump truck, or assigning another colleague to help you with the task
- Make sure that any equipment used to assist manual handling operations is adequately maintained and is in a safe condition
- Provide adequate training - you should have been trained to know when something is too heavy to lift and needs mechanical help such as a forklift truck or crane. If that’s the case, you should also be provided with training to operate this equipment safely
- Provide training on what you should do if you sustain an injury
- Assess the hazards of manual handling operations that can’t be avoided
If you already have a back or neck condition or you return to work after illness or injury, your employer has a duty to carry out a new risk assessment and consider whether it’s safe for you to continue with lifting activity.
In short, manual handling regulations put the onus on your employer to:
- Protect you
- Make sure your workplace is safe as possible
- Reduce the number of injuries in the workplace
- Minimise the need for any manual handling that may cause injury, as much as possible
If your employer has failed to take the steps needed to keep you safe at work, and you’ve suffered a manual handling injury as a result, you may have grounds to claim compensation.
What Should You Do after a Manual Handling Injury?
If you suffer any manual handling injuries, you must make sure the time and details of your accident at work are correctly recorded in your employer’s accident report book. If your employer will not record this or let you see it, you should get legal advice as soon as possible.
You should also get medical treatment for your injuries as soon as possible.
How Much Compensation Can I Get for Manual Handling Injuries?
There are two elements to compensation – Special Damages and General Damages. Special Damages are usually the biggest part of a claim, and reflect financial factors such as your loss of earnings, so this will vary considerably for each person.
However, there are guidelines from the Judicial College outlining how much you could expect to receive in general damages, which reflect the injury itself.
For a neck injury at work where a full recovery can be expected in three months, you could be awarded up to £2,300. But for the most severe neck injury, such as dislocation that means you need spinal fusion, you could receive up to £36,120.
Similarly, if you sustain a back injury at work and make a full recovery in three months, you can expect up to £2,300, but for a back injury with muscle or ligament disturbance, slipped disc or acceleration of a pre-existing condition by more than five years, your General Damages could be worth up to £26,500.
We should stress that these are just guidelines and any compensation settlement will be valued to reflect your specific injuries and circumstances.