What do I need to do to claim work back pain compensation?
Eoin P. Campbell
Eoin P. Campbell, LL.B., Solicitor
Editor in Chief

Question:

I suffer from a lot of back pain and my doctor believes that it could be associated with my job. What do I need to do to claim work back pain compensation?

Answer:

Unfortunately, you did not explain what it is that you do for a living, and work back pain injuries can be caused by many different situations.

The most common sufferers of back pain in the workplace are those employed in jobs which involve manual handling. The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act (General Application) of 2007 includes regulations to reduce wherever possible the risk of work back pain from manual handling and to make employers perform risk assessments before any manual handling task is undertaken.

Despite these regulations, work back pain injuries arising from manual handling account for one-third of all injuries reported to the Health and Safety Authority, and when an employer fails to provide you with protection against loads which are too heavy, too difficult to grasp or where the physical effort to manage them is too strenuous, he is in breach of these regulations.

Similar regulations also apply to jobs where you may be sitting in front of a computer or working at the same machine for long periods of time without a break. Employers have a responsibility in these circumstances as well to perform risk assessments and ensure that they are providing a safe working environment in which their employees can work.

Too much stress can also lead to work back pain and, although it is more difficult for your doctor to connect your injury with your employment, employers have a legal obligation to manage workloads, prevent bullying and harassment in the workplace, and ensure that individuals do not place themselves in work situations where they could suffer work back pain because of stress.

Work back pain injuries may lead to chronic illness and disability, and the application of ergonomics in the workplace is meant to reduce the risk of work back pain. If you feel that your doctor is correct in his assessment of the cause of your back condition, you should speak with a solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity about your entitlement to claim work back pain compensation.