If you are working in an occupation that requires frequent lifting you are likely to feel aches and pains that are part and parcel of the job. However, more serious injuries can be caused by lifting loads that are excessive or by using incorrect lifting techniques. In fact, manual handling accounts for one third of all the injuries that occur within the workplace. Because of the risk of injury inherent in lifting, certain duties are imposed on your employer, under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, to introduce measures to eradicate or reduce the risk of injury associated with manually handling loads. The Health and Safety Executive has also issued guidance to employees as to how to lift safely, which is intended to further minimise the risk of injury. The guidance includes the following suggestions:
- Before commencing lifting, ensure that any obstructions in your route are cleared, plan a rest part way through a long lift and consider whether you will require assistance with the lift from another member of the workforce or a lifting aid
- Ensure that you have a good grip of the load before lifting
- Adopt a stance with your feet apart and one leg slightly ahead of the other to aid balance
- Keep flexing of the back, hips and knees to a minimum and do not increase the degree of flex during the lift itself
- Keep the load as close as possible to the body, especially the heaviest side of the load
- Do not twist the back or lean to the side whilst lifting and, if you need to turn whilst lifting, do so by moving the feet
- Keep the shoulders level and facing the same way as the hips
- Keep your movements smooth rather than jerky
- Do not try to lift loads that you are not comfortable with. If you are in any doubt about your physical capacity to lift a particular load, ask for advice or assistance
- When you are required to put down the load in a specific position, put it down first and adjust the position by sliding the load
What to do if you are injured
Sustaining an injury as a result of lifting a load is unfortunate, and if this has happened to you, the first things to do, after seeking medical assistance if required, is to ensure that the circumstances of the incident are fully recorded. This would normally be in the accident report book. If possible, take photographs of the load and note the identity of any witnesses to the event. If necessary, seek medical assistance as soon as possible and keep records of this also. You will need to establish that the accident was a result of some failure on the part of your employer to implement appropriate measures to reduce the risk of injury. This could include the failure to carry out a risk assessment, the failure to provide lifting equipment, calling upon you to lift heavy loads or requiring you to lift in circumstances where safe lifting techniques cannot be pursued. In any of those circumstances you may well have a claim for damages against your employer for the injuries you have sustained.
Accidents at Work
If you have suffered a lifting injury and feel that your employer was responsible, you should take early advice from a solicitor who has particular expertise in personal injury law. The team at Accinet are experts in personal injury law and have fought and won cases like yours since 1995. Get advice on your workplace accident from us today visit www.Accinet.co.uk to start your accident claim.