Furniture lifting injury claims

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Jonathan Speight

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A guide to making a No Win No Fee heavy furniture injury claim

Moving heavy objects such as furniture at work may result in injuries typically?musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)

MSDs affect muscles, joints and tendons in all parts of the body, and according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) accounted for 42% of all work related illnesses in 2013/14.

8.3 million working days an average of 15.9 days per case were lost as a consequence.

Should an employee be required to move heavy furniture?

Sometimes employees may be asked to move furniture, perhaps in an office reorganisation. However the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (amended in 2002) (MHOR) whose primary aim is to reduce the incidence and prevalence of MSDs arising from the manual handling give clear guidance to employers about their duties in regulation 4:

  1. The employer shall so far as is reasonably practicable, avoid the need for his employees to undertake any manual handling operations at work which involve a risk of injury.
  2. Where 1) above is not possible, the employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of all such operations which cannot be avoided, taking account of Schedule 1.
  3. The employer shall take appropriate steps to reduce the risk of injury during those operations to the lowest level reasonably practicable.

In essence this means that the employer must make sure that any manual handling tasks carried out are properly assessed so they may be done safely. Any tasks deemed dangerous should not be undertaken. Manual handling includes lowering, pushing and pulling as well as lifting and carrying.

Can a claim be brought by an employee who has sustained injury by moving furniture?

If an employer has failed to adhere to the MHOR then he may be found negligent if an employee sustains an injury through carrying out the employer's instructions.

However, employees also have a duty to their own and other employees' safety and should:

  • Co-operate fully with their employer on all matters relating to health and safety
  • Follow all health and safety guidelines provided by their employer
  • Notify their employer of any dangerous manual handling practices they notice
  • Pay attention to what effect their actions could have on themselves or others
  • Use all safety equipment provided by their employer

If an employee sustains injury, but has not observed his own obligations he may be found to have contributed to his injuries. In this case any compensatory award may be reduced as his actions amounted to contributory negligence.

Although any personal injury claims brought against an employer should be paid through the employers' liability insurance, the insurer will only pay the compensation if it is satisfied that the employer was responsible for the Claimant's injuries.

Where the insurer believes that the employer has failed to meet his legal responsibilities for the health and safety of its employees, the policy may enable the insurer to reclaim the cost of compensation from the employer.
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