Ambulance worker wins £140,000 in back injury compensation claimJuly 1, 2011
An ambulance worker has won £140,000 compensation after submitting a back injury compensation claim. He was injured whilst transporting a 19 stone patient to a hospital in Manchester. Two wheels came off the stretcher meaning that the ambulance worker was bearing the full weight of both the patient and the stretcher. He bore this weight for 5 minutes until the patient could be transferred into the ambulance. As a result of the accident, he suffered damage to his lower back and right leg and could not continue work. He said, “I’ve lost the job that I enjoyed through no fault of my own.” He said that other ambulance workers had complained about the stretchers but they were not consulted about the equipment used and their concerns remained unheard. The worker said, “Not only have I lost my job, but I can’t do all the things at home that I used to love, like gardening. I have a large garden and now I have to rely on my wife and son to take care of it.”
Health and Safety Executive statistics indicate that in the period between 1992 – 1995, nearly 14,000 manual handing incidents were reported in the NHS. Of these, 60% involved manual handling. Across all occupations, more than a third of all over-three-day injuries are caused by manual handling. Manual handling forms a part of many different types of job. Hospital workers, including ambulance workers and nurses are at risk of back injuries through the manual handling of patients and equipment. In fact, around 3,600 nurses retire each year as a result of back injuries.
Most back injuries are caused by problems with the muscles, ligaments and joints of the back. There are a number of factors that can increase the risk of back injuries at work. Bending and twisting, heavy lifting, repeated actions including lifting, uncomfortable positioning and environmental factors such as uneven flooring can all increase the risk of a back injury.
Employers must ensure that workers who will move or lift objects as part of their job are given manual handling training. The training should include techniques for lifting safely, for recognising manual handling situations which could be potentially dangerous and what to do if an incident or injury occurs. Employers are also responsible for ensuring that thorough risk assessments are completed and that systems of work minimise the risk of injury to workers. If these precautions are not taken, the employer may be considered to be negligent and if this is the case, a back injury compensation claim can result in a payment to the victim.
For the ambulance worker, the accident could have perhaps have been avoided if more regular checks were completed on the equipment used and if more care was taken that the equipment was adapted to the vehicle.