Back to Blog

Confessions of an Office Assistant – Manual Handling

It’s Not What You Carry But How You Carry it

Dear Diary

A new lawyer has just joined the Employer’s Liability Team. I can’t tell you his name, but for these purposes I’ll just call him Patrick.

Patrick seems like he’ll fit in with the rest of the team quite nicely. He seems organised enough, but he’s been running around wondering how we’re going to get some trial bundles photocopied and off to the Court and the other side before the end of the week.

This is where I come to the rescue of our new starter! I’m an expert with this sort of thing. Getting all the documents in order and then indexed, paginated and into ring binders before sending them off to the Court.

The case is an interesting one. Our client, who I’m going to call Zara, works in an office. Document management is her game. Her boss asked her to replace the water cooler. He thinks he’s a big shot who’s far too important to do things like that himself.

Zara does her best to help but she’s struggling with the weight of the water and suddenly her back goes – ouch! Sounds horrid. Before she knows it, she’s in the back of an ambulance with terrible pains in her back and a couple of broken toes.

I’m glad we can help her because she’s had to take a lot of time off work. She didn’t receive any sick pay and her Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) ran out. Among other things, she’s claiming for her loss of earnings, and the care provided by her husband as well as costly babysitting fees. She’s got a young child so it’s been tough for her. It’s good to see she recovered pretty well. The medical reports we arranged for her are really helpful and the prognosis looks good.

Unfortunately, the other side are trying to say the whole incident was her fault. I disagree. I’ve seen all the documents that were sent over and there are no training records. I think our client is going to win. If they’re smart, they’ll settle this case before the trial starts next week.

I reckon they will. Patrick reckons they will too but I’m still trying to get all the other documents together. Luckily for me I have a trolley to load up with all the ring binders before they go to the post room to be boxed and taken off to the Court.

Patrick didn’t know we had the trolley and he gallantly asked if I needed some help! I told him I was fine with the trolley and he should get on with the online Manual Handling Training course which just arrived in his inbox!

I’ve been doing some manual handling research myself and I’ve told him he should know better than trying to lift anything too heavy in the office. Manual handling is described as the “transporting or supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or bodily force.”

Many of us think manual handling injuries only occur on building sites or factories where heavy lifting takes place on a regular basis. But, if your work involves regular manual handling, you should be trained in safe manual handling techniques as part of your employment.

It’s worth checking that a manual handling risk assessment has been completed before you begin such a task to ensure you don’t require mechanical aid or assistance from your colleagues. Awkward postures, poor lifting techniques, and failing to plan your route will all increase the risk of a manual handling-related work accident.

We associate manual handling-related injuries with the lifting of heavy crates, tools and equipment, but this isn’t always the case. More than a third of all reportable injuries resulting in an absence from work for more than three days involve manual handling incidents.

Out of such cases, 10% involve major injuries. Every organisation has potentially hazardous manual handling tasks and anyone involved in any kind of heavy lifting, including office workers such as myself, could be at risk of developing the most commonly reported type of work-related illness, that of musculoskeletal disorders.

Musculoskeletal disorders can have a massive impact on businesses and individuals. If your work involves regular manual handling, it is important that you are trained in safe manual handling techniques as part of your employment.

It’s really nice to be able to help people like Zara and her family. But if her boss had only thought to provide her with manual handling training, she could have avoided that unnecessary trip to hospital.

 

Dear Diary

Great day today. Zara’s case won and she was really pleased. Her back is on the mend and her boss has moved to another department! Patrick is over the moon about the result and he’s going to treat us all to doughnuts tomorrow.

He’s also got some medical records for me to look through…our new client slipped on a wet floor at work….I know lots about that as well, but that can wait until next time.

Melisa Ozkizil is an Office Assistant in the Personal Injury team at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.

John Reeder is a Senior Personal Injury Lawyer at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in London.

For a free consultation about a work accident compensation claim, call our No Win No Fee Personal Injury Lawyers 24 hours 7 days a week on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we will get back to you.

Comments