Can I make a claim against my employer to recover compensation for a back injury lifting a heavy desk at work?
You may have grounds to claim compensation for a back injury lifting a heavy desk at work, provided that your employer was responsible for the accident.
If you took it upon yourself to move the desk, you would not be entitled to claim compensation for a back injury lifting a heavy desk at work as the injury would be regarded as your own fault. Similarly, if you have been told to move the desk and did not seek assistance from other members of the office staff, a claim for a back injury from lifting a desk in an office is also unlikely to be possible.
Your employer should have been aware of both HSE guidelines and health and safety legislation covering manual handling in the workplace, and the dangers to employees from lifting heavy and awkward objects. Manual handling is covered by specific health and safety legislation due to the risk it poses to employees.
Under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations (1992), employers must ensure that appropriate training is provided to all staff that is required to lift objects at work, even if it is not a regular duty. When objects need to be lifted or moved, the risk of injury should also be assessed and appropriate numbers of staff should be allocated to the task.
One common problem arises in offices when furniture needs to be moved and the staff are required to provide assistance. It is in circumstances such as this that injuries are commonly sustained, as workers are less likely to have been provided with training on correct lifting techniques. If an improper technique is employed, even a light load can easily cause an injury to be sustained.
Before arranging for a heavy desk to be moved your employer should have conducted a risk assessment. Since the desk was heavy, your employer should have determined how many employees would be required to ensure that the desk could be manoeuvred safely.
If insufficient staff were allocated to the task, this would have meant that unacceptably heavy load would need to be carried by the members of staff allocated to the job. This would have placed the staff at a high risk of sustaining and injury and this could certainly be considered to represent negligence on the part of the employer. A claim for a back injury from lifting a desk in an office could certainly be made if this was the case.
It would have been appropriate for the work to be supervised by the office manager or a nominated deputy if the desk was particularly heavy. If you were employing a poor lifting technique this should have been noticed and instruction provided, and this simple step could have been all it took to prevent a back injury from lifting a desk at work.
There are many scenarios under which a claim would be possible, and a number of factors that can affect eligibility to make a claim for a back injury from lifting a desk at work. We therefore recommend discussing your case with a personal injury solicitor. You will be advised if compensation for a back injury lifting a heavy desk at work can be recovered under the circumstances and, if so, you will be told what needs to be done next in order to start the claim process.