Can I claim nurse back injury compensation against my employer for failing to provide a mechanical hoist to lift patients? I slipped a disc helping a patient get back into bed when no colleagues were available to help as we are very short staffed.

Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor

Editor in Chief

Eoin P. Campbell

You will be entitled to claim nurse back injury compensation against your employer if you can establish and prove that there has been negligence, and a lack of attention to your personal safety resulted in you sustaining a back injury at work.

A nurse back injury is a relatively common complaint as nursing involves considerable manual handling duties. Employers need to be particularly attentive to the level of lifting which needs to be completed by nursing staff and all practical methods should be employed to keep lifting to a minimum. A single nurse cannot be expected to lift a patient without assistance and, if insufficient staff levels are not available to allow nurses to receive assistance, then a mechanical hoist should be provided.

The weight of patients can be considerable and a safe lifting technique is vital to prevent a back injury. Lifting a heavy patient is never a job for a single nurse due to the high risk of a back injury. If staffing levels did not permit you to lift a patient safely, and no lifting equipment was provided, then your employer has failed in their duty of care and this should entitle you to claim nurse back injury compensation. Your employer must have been aware that staffing levels did not permit lifting tasks to be completed safely and a claim for nurse back injury compensation should therefore be possible.

All nurses must also be provided with on the job training on correct lifting techniques for their own personal safety, as well as to ensure the safety of patients. Even if a nurse receives proper training on lifting techniques, back injuries can still be sustained if excessively heavy loads have to be lifted singlehandedly. A failure in training is also grounds for making a claim for nurse back injury compensation if an injury is sustained as a direct result.

Even thought you are not obliged to use a personal injury solicitor to make a claim for nurse back injury compensation through the Injuries Board, it is strongly advisable that you do so. Your eligibility to make a nurse back injury claim will be confirmed and a specialist doctor can be arranged to assess whether any long-term damage has been sustained. This will help to ensure that the strongest possible claim for nurse back injury compensation is submitted to the Injuries Board and the consequences of your injury are fully detailed in your medical assessment submitted to the Injuries Board.