Many workers in Britain are vulnerable to back injuries at work, and it’s unsurprising that trade union UNISON names back pain as one of the “biggest causes of workplace absences” with a reported 12 million working days lost annually.
Common causes can be manual labour, or simply repetitive tasks, extended periods of sitting, or long-distance driving.
Back injuries can be painful, and if the issue is down to employer negligence there may be grounds for a No Win No Fee compensation claim.
What is classed as a back injury caused in the workplace?
There aren’t set guidelines on what can and can’t be classed as a back injury caused in the workplace.
Some roles are more likely to cause a back injury, such as manual labour jobs that involve heavy lifting, manual handling, and operating heavy machinery.
Less labour-intensive roles can also cause back injury: sitting at a desk for long stretches of time, repetitive typing, and long-distance driving can all lead to pain and injury over time.
It’s an employer’s responsibility to do everything in its power to reduce the risk of injury for its employees. This includes providing the proper Health and Safety training as outlined by the Health and Safety Executive, as well as suitable equipment and a safe working environment.
If your employer has failed to provide any of these preventative measures, and you have suffered a back injury as a result, you may be able to claim for compensation.
What types of back injuries can be claimed for?
Minor to major back injuries caused by a work accident can be claimed against. These can include spinal and disk injuries, bruising, lower back strain, fractures, and nerve damage. But the best assessment for whether you can claim for compensation isn’t solely the type of injury, but the circumstances in which the injury occurred.
What should you do if you’ve sustained a back injury at work?
We have a special guide that covers how to report an accident at work, but in short, for minor injuries and general back pain, it’s important to report the issue to your employer. This gives them the opportunity to rectify the issue, and if they don’t, you may be able to use this as evidence when making a claim. They also should record the injury in an accident book, or ask you to write an injury report.
If you have suffered a more severe injury or back pain, it’s important to either make a same day appointment with your GP, or to visit the A&E department at your local hospital, and receive appropriate treatment before taking any other steps.
Following this, if you decide to make a claim for compensation for your injury, you will need to make a note of all conversations with your employer, as well as the results of your trip to the doctors or hospital. You should contact a specialist injury solicitor, who will be able to tell you what steps you need to take to embark on the claim.
When can you make a claim, and how much could you receive?
Claims made under negligence have a three-year time frame. This can become longer or shorter depending on your circumstances, so it’s important to contact a solicitor as early as you can.
You may be able to claim for two types of compensation, general damages and special damages:
- General damages: This type of compensation covers payment for pain, suffering, and loss of future earnings.
- Special damages: This compensation is claimed because of actual financial loss as a result of the accidents, as well as covering elements such a treatment costs, travel costs, loss or damage to personal property, and so on.
The amount awarded for both of these damages is ultimately decided by the judge if your case goes to court. As such, amounts can vary from a few hundred pounds to several hundreds of thousand depending on the severity of the injury, and the negligence of the workplace. The judge will also consider whether you can be considered partially to blame for the injury, and as such may reduce the compensation awarded accordingly.
Our personal injury Compensation Calculator can provide a rough guide to the amount you could receive for a back injury.
If you've had a work accident, or have been diagnosed with an industrial illness you might also like to read our FAQs.