Work-related back injuries are a major problem in the UK. Not only can they result in a person requiring medical treatment and time off work, back injuries often go on to reoccur. Over time, this can put you under considerable financial and emotional strain.
According to the Labour Force Survey, there were 194,000 cases of self-reported work-related musculoskeletal disorders in 2016/17. Whilst this is high, thankfully the numbers are reducing year on year.
Unsurprisingly, construction sees the highest levels of back-related injuries; however, the transport/storage and manufacturing sectors also have much higher numbers of musculoskeletal disorders than average.
What are the leading causes of back injuries at work?
Back pain has a number of possible causes, including:
- Lifting, pushing or pulling heavy or large loads (especially if using a bad technique)
- Poor posture – this is especially common in those that sit a great deal during the day
- Stretching, twisting and reaching excessively
- Repetitive tasks and prolonged periods in a static position
What are the warning signs of a back injury?
Back injuries can range from mild to severe, and the symptoms, as a result, can vary considerably. In most cases, especially where there hasn’t been an obvious accident or trauma, a back injury will reveal itself as dull/achy pain and stiffness, which may be severe, but will dissipate over time. You may also have a burning pain or numbness from your lower back to your thighs, or muscle spasms and tension in the back, pelvis and hips. These are strong indicators that you may need to seek medical advice from your GP.
If you are experiencing symptoms such as loss of bladder or bowel control, fever, swelling of the back, pain which is getting worse and pain in the chest or legs, especially if you have had an accident which has affected your back, you must seek urgent medical assistance.
Recovering from a back injury
Following a back injury, having a plan to ensure a proper recovery will mean you can return to the normal activities that back pain often impedes. As soon as you are able, we recommend you seek the guidance of an experienced personal injury solicitor. There is good reason to do this as early as possible – rehabilitation. Under the Ministry of Justice Pre-Action Protocol for Personal Injury Claims, once a claim is lodged, both parties’ solicitors are strongly encouraged to work together to consider your rehabilitation needs. In practice, this will mean that your solicitor will liaise closely with the third-party representatives and medical experts to determine if further medical treatment or rehabilitation is required and if so, put this in place.
In addition to any surgery you may need, the recovery process may include a range of therapies and treatments, depending on the type and severity of the injury. Exercise will form a fundamental base of your rehabilitation, including strength exercises, stretching, yoga, swimming, walking. Moving more will be crucial to your recovery. You may also require medication, massage, hot or cold compression, and if you are struggling psychologically, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or other psychological therapies can be arranged.
What should I do if I have suffered a back injury at work?
By contacting the team at Russell Worth, you will be supported through the next stages of your recovery and compensation process. To be successful in claiming compensation, from your employer, we will need to establish it was their negligence that caused your injury to occur. For example, if your employer failed to provide proper manual handling training, or a desk workplace assessment, which could have avoided your back damage, they could be liable to pay compensation. If you are successful, the money you receive may be extremely valuable to ensure that you can pay your bills if you are unable to work or to foot the cost of additional treatment. We work on a no-win-no-fee basis, which means you will not need to pay us a fee if your claim is not successful (although you may need to pay any expenses which are attached to your case). You can be confident that based on our experience of claiming for such injuries against employers, you have a good chance of a positive outcome when instructing us.