A woman who worked as a sorter for a sofa manufacturer has won £5,000 after sustaining a back injury.

As a sorter, our client’s role involved sorting and carrying layers of material for furniture such as sofas and chairs. The materials would be stored on pallets or in plastic boxes that were stacked at waist height. Our client would carry the material from the pallet or box to her worktable. She would carry around 20 pieces of material at a time with a weight of around 20kg. In a day, she would deal with around 160 furniture orders per day and carried out the manoeuvres on multiple occasions for each order. No lifting aids were available. The defendant claimed that our client’s job was only to sort the material and that they did not require her to bring the material to her table as they employed Production Operatives to collect the material. Our client stated that there wasn’t enough of them, as they were always helping others to do other tasks. She would have had to stand around waiting if she relied on the Production Operatives, and due to the number of orders she was expected to process, she could not afford to wait around. Instead, she and her colleagues would collect the material themselves. Our client was not provided with any sufficient manual handling training.

As a result of this heavy manual work, our client sustained an acceleration of a pre-existing back condition which means the symptoms of the back condition were brought forward as a result of the working practice by 18 months.

Medical records were obtained from an Orthopaedic Consultant due to the complexity of our client’s injury. The claim was fiercely defended, but an expert ergonomist confirmed that such work warranted a detailed manual handling risk assessment, as opposed to a generic manual handling risk assessment.

Back Injuries at Work

There are generally three different types of work-related back injury, and they tend to stem from:

Repetition

Carrying out repetitive tasks can lead to repetitive strain injuries, back injuries and long-term back pain. When you often carry out repetitive tasks at work, it can cause areas of your back to strain such as the neck, shoulder, or the lumbar spine (lower back). When you aren’t provided with plenty of breaks and in some cases the right equipment, training and a properly set up workstation, back and strain injuries can start to develop. You can be at risk of developing a repetition-based back injury in any job in which you regularly carry out repetitive tasks.

Posture

This type of back injury is common in a range of working environments, including in offices, warehouses and on production lines.

An isolated incident

A back injury can develop slowly over a longer period of time, but it can also occur instantly as a result of an isolated task gone wrong. One-off incidents can take place in any line of work and in any type of workplace.

Read more on our back injury claims page

Our specialist solicitor Ashley Leung was happy to help our client to get the compensation that she deserved for this injury.

If you feel that you may have been affected by something similar, get in touch today for expert help and advice.

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