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Common workplace back injuries

A back injury occurs in six out of every ten work-related accidents, accounting for nearly 120 million lost work days every year.

The most common causes of back injury include slips and trip accidents at work, falls from height or carrying heavy objects (manual handling injuries), an activity that can put considerable strain on the back.

Anyone who has sustained a work-related back injury could be entitled to make a claim for compensation. Damages could be significant, depending on the seriousness of the injury and the long-term impact.

You can claim compensation for any type of back injury including slipped discs, sprains and strains, fractured vertebrae and soft tissue damage.

The following is a list of the typical situations where your employer was likely liable for your injury:

  • Manual handling injuries caused by lifting or carrying heavy or awkward loads without the proper safety training or equipment
  • Falling from height at work, for example from a ladder or scaffolding through inadequate training, monitoring or equipment
  • Slipping or tripping on wet or greasy floors or due to poorly cleaned and maintained work premises
  • Repetitive strain back injury caused by unergonomic work practices, poor training or carrying out repetitive tasks with insufficient breaks
  • Back injuries caused by a faulty product such as chairs that are not fit for purpose.

What to do if you have a back injury at work

Get your back injury checked

Even minor injuries can develop into more chronic conditions if left untreated. Several back injuries will not be obvious in the immediate aftermath of an accident, including soft-tissue injuries like whiplash and nerve injuries.

Your doctor will be better able to identify the risk of these injuries and recommend treatment or that you see a specialist.

Find out more: Key things you need to do when getting medical help for a work injury

Keep a record of your accident and injuries

A record will make it easier to claim:

  • Injury compensation
  • Any benefits you are eligible to receive
  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)

It is a good idea to make a record while you still clearly remember what happened, and while it is easier to get photos and contact details of witnesses.

Find out more: Gathering evidence after a work injury - checklist

Reporting a back injury

Your employer should have a procedure in place to record any accident in the workplace, usually in an accident book. If you remember anything about the accident after the report is filed, you should notify your employer in writing (e.g. by email).

Find out more: Reporting a work accident

Can I make a back injury claim?

If your back was injured in an accident at work, or as a result of your working conditions, you could be entitled to claim compensation. You must have started your claim within three years of the accident or the diagnosis of your health condition.

What financial support can I get for a back injury?

In general, there are three routes to get financial support after a work accident:

  • Claiming Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)
  • Applying for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB)
  • Claiming work accident compensation

Your employer may also provide sick pay above the standard SSP rate. It can take some time to claim compensation and IIDB. If you plan to claim either of these, it may be worthwhile to start the process sooner.

How will my employment status affect my right to claim?

The claims process for full-time workers is generally simpler than for self-employed contracts or agency workers, but you should still be able to claim compensation.

Read more about claiming if you are:

How much back injury compensation can I claim?

Your compensation is broken down into general damages, and special damages.

General damages are based on the nature and seriousness of your injuries, and on the impact your injuries will have on your life. Back and spinal injuries that cause severe, long-term or permanent symptoms generally receive some of the highest awards.

Special damages include any losses or expenses you have incurred due to the accident or your injuries.

The Work Accident Advice Centre calculator gives a good idea of what your compensation award could be, including general and special damages.

No win, no fee back injury claims

Work injury claims in the UK are usually made with the help of a solicitor. Most work accident solicitors work on a "No Win, No Fee" basis. This means that you will only pay any legal fees if your claim is successful.

The solicitor's fees will be paid out of the compensation award.

Speak to us today if you have any questions about how No Win, No Fee injury claims work.

Find out more: Making a No Win, No Fee claim

Get the right advice

We offer free, impartial advice to injured workers in the UK. We will listen to what happened, answer your questions and clearly explain your options.

If you decide to claim, we can recommend the right solicitor for your circumstances.

0800 218 2227

We open at 9am.

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