Compensation for worker who suffered back injury lifting heavy stone

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Compensation for worker who suffered back injury lifting heavy stone

14th March 2013

A Middlesex man who lost his job after injuring his back lifting a heavy memorial stone at work has received more than £40,000 in an out of court settlement.

Arthur Keitch, an accident at work specialist at Fentons Solicitors LLP, said the man, who is in his 30s, was helping a colleague move the large memorial stone when the incident occurred more than three years ago.

“Despite the stone weighing almost a tonne, the only equipment my client and his colleague were provided with was a scaffolding pole,” said Arthur. “Their instructions were to wedge the pole beneath the stone so it could then be levered off the ground by using blocks of wood as a fulcrum.

“They were told to place rollers underneath so that the stone could then be moved,” he added. “They had just managed to lever the stone off the ground when the victim’s colleague released the pole without warning, and caused my client to bear the full weight of the stone on his own.”

Arthur said the man immediately felt stabbing pains in his lower back and collapsed to the floor barely able to move, describing his pain as the worst he had ever experienced in his life. After his colleague and a supervisor helped him to his feet the man was driven to a hospital where an MRI scan revealed he had suffered two prolapsed discs in his spine.

“When my client told his manager he wanted to record the incident in the accident log, he was informed the log could not be found,” said Arthur. “Unbelievably, he was then given a piece of paper and instructed very specifically on exactly what words he should use to describe the incident, ‘so the accident log could be updated at a later date.’ When he informed his manager that the account given described a very different version of events to what had actually occurred, he was simply told to write it up that way regardless.”

In the months following the incident, the claimant - who was unable to dress without help from his wife - endured constant, excruciating pain in his back. He also suffered numbness, weakness, and pins and needles in his right leg and foot which made it extremely difficult for him to walk. When it became clear that his injuries were long-lasting, he was dismissed from his job on health grounds.

“As a result of his employer’s negligence, my client suffered significant pain for more than two years and ultimately lost a job he enjoyed,” said Arthur. “To add insult to injury, he was then ordered to give a false account of what had happened and told that he would only be able to return to his job if he signed a new contract which excluded sick pay.”

Arthur said that on the day of the incident, neither his client nor his colleague - who had not been given any formal manual handling training - were provided with the kind of mechanical lifting equipment necessary for the job they were tasked with.

“Given the considerable weight of the stone, it should have been obvious to my client’s manager that to try and move it manually posed a significant risk of injury,” he said. “Both my client and his colleagues had complained before about not having the right equipment for the job. But each time the subject was mentioned, they were simply told to improvise and make do, or go home.

“It was exactly this kind of shoddy treatment and woeful disregard for both regulations and employee safety that made this case so extraordinary,” said Arthur. “Not only did my client’s manager fail to ensure his staff were adequately trained or equipped for the job, but he also failed to properly risk-assess the work he was asking them to do.”

Arthur settled the claim on behalf of his client for £43,857 in January 2013.

How can Fentons Solicitors help?

Fentons Solicitors has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of accidents in the workplace.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.