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Trevor Sterling's client suffers Spinal Injury at work

16 February 2012

My client was a Design Consultant for B&Q and had been employed in that capacity from 1998 until 1st August 2009. He suffered the onset of significant back symptoms in April 2007 which lead to an on-going absence until his employment was terminated on the 1st August 2009. He had previously suffered an aggravation in respect of his back in or around April 2006 which lead to a short absence from work of a week or so and a medical certificate had been submitted.

My clients work involved the design and planning of kitchens. He was provided with a laptop and other associated equipment called CAD, this was computer aided design equipment which was effectively a case made of reinforced plastic which comprised of a laptop and other equipment. It was suggested that this weighed approximately 12 kilograms. He would attend customer’s homes, he would then attend and carry out work in store i.e. put together the final plans, he also carried out some work from home.

The client estimated that between May 2006 (after the initial onset of his back problems) and March 2007, just before his on-going absence, 75% of time was spent at the customer’s premises, 15% at home and 10% at the store.

In store, it was contended that only standard chairs were supplied and the ergonomics were poor.

In or around January 2007 there was a change of set up in that only the survey was done onsite (at the customer’s premise) by another operative and then all the design and planning was done in store from appropriate ergonomic workstations.

It was my client's case that the system of work involved the use of the CAD and poor ergonomics subjected him to a foreseeable risk of injury. The Defendants accepted that no risk assessment was carried out however their case was essentially that the work was not unsafe, that his physiotherapist in May 2006 simply suggested that he needed to refrain from work which involved prolonged sitting, there was no mention of carrying or poor ergonomics and that his back problems were constitutional in origin.

My client's medical evidence concluded that he was suffering from multi-level degenerative disease activated by his work and that his condition was accelerated.

Notwithstanding the significant issues in relation to Negligence and Causation we were able to negotiate a settlement in the sum of approximately £38,000.