When we go to work each day, the last thing we expect is to be injured whilst we’re doing our job. We expect that our workplace is a safe space, but the responsibility for ensuring that it is safe lies with our employers. It’s an employer’s responsibility to ensure that the workplace is safe and that employees can carry out their jobs without the risk of being injured in an accident – this includes putting in place preventative measure to reduce the risk of accidents.
If you think your employer is neglecting their duties, there are steps you can take. But what happens if you have already suffered a back injury at work after an accident that you believe could have been prevented? You may be able to make a personal injury claim, and you could also report your employer to the Health and Safety Executive.
Are back injuries serious?
Back injuries have the potential to be complex, as the back links to so many other parts of the body, and a back injury at work could lead to mobility problems. The back is divided into three parts: the upper (cervical) spine, the middle (thoracic) spine and the lower (lumbar) spine. The cervical spine is also known as the neck. Accident Advice Helpline has now been helping members of the public to claim accident compensation since 2000 and the majority of back injury claims we have come across relate to injuries to the lower and middle spine, and the surrounding muscles and tissues. Back injuries are far more common than you might think. In fact, figures from HSE relating to work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSD) show that the total number of WRSMDs in 2015-16 was 539, 000, accounting for 41% of all work-related illnesses.
You may have suffered a pulled muscle, herniated disc or some other type of injury – you may even have suffered other injuries such as a dislocated shoulder or broken ankle. Whatever has happened, you have three years from the date of your accident to make a claim for accident compensation.
How did you injure your back?
The majority of back injuries happen after a slip, trip or fall or a manual handling accident. These types of accidents are no laughing matter either – HSE statistics show that between 2013 and 2014, an estimated 909,000 working days were lost due to handling injuries such as back injuries. The majority of accidents like these can be prevented with a little care. For example, slipping on a wet floor at work could be prevented by using warning signs, if the floor has just been cleaned. Tripping accidents – such as tripping over trailing cables – can be avoided by ensuring your workspace is tidy and free of trip hazards.
Manual handling injuries often occur as a result of lack of proper training. It’s your employer’s responsibility to ensure that you get the necessary training to carry out your job safely. If they fail to do so and you are left to lift heavy or awkward loads without training, they could be held liable if you later suffer a back injury at work, and ordered to pay you personal injury compensation.
Are you more likely to suffer a back injury in certain industries?
Slips, trips and falls and manual handling injuries can happen in almost any job, although when it comes to manual handling, a back injury at work is obviously more likely to be caused if you are lifting heavy or awkward loads on a regular basis – for example if you work in a factory or warehouse. When it comes to workplace accidents in general, it doesn’t seem to matter too much which business sector you work in – accidents can happen almost anywhere, at any time. Agriculture seems to be the most dangerous sector, with 2,240 injuries per 100,000 workers between 2007 and 2008.
Construction and transport follow close behind, whilst the lowest rates of injury can be found in the finance and education sectors, with 310 and 610 injuries per 100,000 workers respectively. And did you know that, according to the ONS’s Labour Force Survey, musculoskeletal conditions including back and neck injuries account for more prolonged work absences than any other injuries or ailments?
Taking steps to prevent a back injury at work
There are things you (and your employer) can do to reduce the risk of back injuries at work. Things like:
- Ensuring your workstation is set up properly, if you work in an office, to prevent back pain
- Taking regular breaks, especially if your job is repetitive
- Keeping a clean and tidy workspace, free of trip hazards
- Ensuring that you have been provided with the training needed to carry out your job safely
- Never lifting loads that are too heavy or awkward to manage alone
- Reporting any health and safety concerns to your manager and ensuring they are dealt with in a timely manner
These tips can help you to reduce the risk of being injured in an accident at work.
Claiming compensation for a back injury at work
If the worst has already happened and you have suffered a back injury at work, you might find yourself wondering what the average personal injury settlement is for this type of injury, and whether or not you are eligible to make a claim. The good news is that if your employer, or anybody else, is liable for you accident, then you could make a claim with Accident Advice Helpline. There is no such thing as an ‘average’ figure when it comes to a back injury settlement, as we handle each claim on an individual basis. But you could get an idea of what you may receive by taking the 30-second test, right here on our website.
Then make sure you get in touch with us within the three-year time limit to make a claim. You can call us on 0800 689 0500, or 0333 500 0993 from a mobile, to find out more and see if you are eligible to make a 100% no-win, no-fee* claim.