Can compensation for a back injury lifting a heavy box at work be claimed if manual handling of boxes is in my job description?

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

Your legal right to claim compensation for a back injury lifting a heavy box at work should not be affected by your job description. Although you are required to lift heavy boxes at work, your employer cannot contravene Health and Safety at Work legislation and place you at an unacceptable risk of injury. Provided that you injured your back at work through no fault of your own and your injury can be attributed to your employer´s negligence, you will have every chance of successfully being able to recover compensation for a back injury lifting a heavy box at work.

However if you had been directly instructed not to lift the box in question by your employer or manager, and still chose to do so, it is unlikely that you will be able to successfully recover compensation. No injury claim for compensation for a back injury lifting a heavy box at work will be possible if you were primarily responsible for your back injury.

Before it is possible to make a claim you must be able to establish that your injury was caused by your employer´s negligence. There are many examples of employer negligence when it comes to manual handling back injuries, and often even staff who believe they are personally responsible for an injury can in fact recover compensation for a back injury lifting a heavy box at work after a personal injury solicitor has investigated the case.

For instance, your training should have included instruction on safe lifting techniques, even if you were only occasionally required to perform manual handling duties. Your employer has a legal duty to make sure that you receive training on proper lifting techniques if you are required to perform any manual handling tasks in the workplace under Irish law. This is one of four key requirements covering manual handling at work as stipulated in the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007.

Under this legislation, not only must an employer provide training, but manual handling of boxes must be avoided whenever possible and all reasonable attempts must be made to ensure that the lifting of heavy boxes is avoided. An employer has a responsibility to provide lifting equipment, or must assign multiple staff to lift heavy boxes as appropriate. A claim for compensation for a back injury lifting a heavy box at work should be possible if you can establish and prove that your injury was the result of a failure in any of these employer responsibilities.

If training was not provided, suitable lifting equipment was not available or if you were specifically instructed to move an unacceptably heavy box, your employer could be held to be liable for your injuries and his insurance policy will cover any settlement of compensation for a back injury lifting a heavy box at work. Establishing and proving negligence in a claim for compensation for a back injury lifting a heavy box at work can be difficult however, so it is therefore recommended that you discuss your case with a personal injury solicitor.