A timber worker has won £56,638 after suffering aggravation of a back condition due to lack of sufficient training.
Our client was employed as a general operative for the defendant from September 2016 to March 2018. He was required to work on benches, building large frames which would involve lifting large pre-cut beams of timber to assemble and make shells for walls before they were to be filled with fireproofing materials and insulations. These shells would then be eventually used to construct houses. During this process, our client would be required to life 3-6 metres in length and the beams would also range in weight from around 10-20 kilos. The completed structures of wall lengths would weight anywhere between 150-200 kilos and the packs of beams would weigh around 150 kilos. Our client was then required to lift these with the assistance of one person. Despite the weights being excessive for even two people, there was limited to no mechanical aids present to assist.
Each wall that the Claimant constructed would require 15 beams and he would construct 15 walls on each of his shifts. In order to construct these walls, our client would begin by holding each of the beams in place with one hand and firing nails into the beams with an airgun. He would then repeat this until the frame was finished. This activity put a lot of strain on his back while he was holding and firing the airguns. Once these frames were completed, he would be required to push the assembled frame, weighing 150-200 kilos onto a forklift truck if there was one available to be used. If no forklift truck was available, which was more often than not, he would be required to lift the completed frame off the bench with the assistance of three other people, and then place this onto the floor.
Our client was not provided with any sufficient manual handling training, and, as a result of this heavy manual work the Claimant sustained an aggravation of a pre-existing back condition.
Medical reports were obtained from an Orthopaedic Consultant due to the complexity of the Claimant’s injury.
The Employer’s Duty of Care
It is always an employer’s duty to protect the health and safety of all of their employees. This includes doing whatever is reasonably practical to achieve this and means that risk assessments must be regularly carried out, and then safety measures implemented. When it seems necessary to train staff in matters such as manual handling, then these training measures should be put into place.
In this particular case, our client’s pre-existing back complaint was severely worsened by the work that he was being asked to carry out, and he should have been given the correct training in how to manually handle objects in his work without further damaging his back.
We were pleased to make sure that he got the compensation that he needed for his injury, and would encourage anyone who has been subjected to similarly lax working standards to get in touch today.
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