How much compensation can you claim for a manual handling injury?

Many workers carry out manual handling tasks as part of their everyday work responsibilities. The term refers to the lifting, lowering and carrying of items, such as taking boxes off shelves or pushing a delivery cart.

Manual handling can put the body under considerable strain if it is not carried out correctly. Injuries include strains, joint damage and muscle tears, particularly to the upper body, neck and back. Statistics from the Labour Force Survey indicate that injuries of this type make up more than four in ten of all incidents reported to the health and safety authorities each year.

If you have been injured in a manual handling accident at work, then you may be entitled to claim compensation. The settlement you receive will depend on the seriousness of your injury and how it affects your ability to do the things you used to do such as practice hobbies, play sports and work.

Is the employer liable?

The Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 set out the rules that employers must follow when designing manual handling activities. There is no such thing as a completely safe manual handling operation, and the main thrust of the legislation is reducing risk.

Specifically, employers must eliminate manual handling wherever possible by automating lifting and carrying tasks. Where this is not practicable, employers must reduce the risk of injury by, for example:

  • Reducing the load to match the strength and weight of the worker
  • Ensuring the weight of objects is evenly distributed
  • Using lifting aids
  • Reducing the amount of twisting and stooping
  • Giving plenty of rest breaks
  • Training staff on safe manual handling procedures.

Employers who do not take the necessary steps to reduce the injury risk are likely to be found negligent in a personal injury claim that results from this failure.

Damages in manual handling claims

Personal injury compensation is divided into two categories:

  • General damages to cover the pain and suffering the manual handling injury has caused; and
  • Special damages to cover your out-of-pocket expenses such as lost wages, travel costs and medical expenses.

The amount of general damages you receive will depend on the type and seriousness of the injury. The more serious the injury, the higher the award.

How much compensation will you receive?

Lawyers and insurance companies refer to a set of guidelines published by the Judicial College to help them negotiate a fair settlement. The guidelines set out the financial value of various types of personal injuries ranging from a broken arm to life-changing quadriplegia. Each entry takes the form of a minimum and maximum award.

To give you an idea of the amount of compensation you might receive, here are some of the Judicial College recommendations:

  • Minor neck injury: £300 to £1,860
  • Minor back injury, recovery within two years with no surgery: £1,860 to £6,000
  • Severe thumb dislocation: £3,000 to £5,150
  • Serious arm injury leaving some long-lasting effects: £14,600 to £29,800
  • Severe back injury that permanently restricts your ability to work: £56,375 to £67,200  
  • Serious neck injury involving fractures or damage to discs: £50,000 to £99,500.

These figures are simply a guide. For an accurate estimate of your potential settlement, contact a specialist work accident solicitor who can review your case and arrange for a medical examination to determine the extent of your injuries.

The medical report will form the basis of your compensation claim.