Caretaker tore tendons as he lifted heavy sofa04 February 2009
Safe methods for handling heavy objects
A GMB member urged employers to introduce safe methods for handling heavy objects after he damaged his shoulder lifting furniture.
The 54-year-old was off work for two months after he tore the tendons in his shoulder while carrying a large three seater sofa up a fire escape.
He was working as an assistant caretaker for a local school in Barrow in Furness when the accident happened.
He was asked to carry the furniture up the stairs with a colleague because it was too large to fit in the indoor staircase.
Lifting sofa above head height caused shoulder injury
He had to lift the sofa above head height and as a result damaged his shoulder. The injury meant he could not lift his left arm and when he returned to work he was unable to do any lifting.
Following the accident he dropped into the GMB’s monthly surgery in Barrow where he was told he may be able to pursue a claim for compensation. The GMB instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors which successfully settled the claim for over £10,000.
He said: “My shoulder has never fully healed and I have to be careful with it. I know now that I should have refused to carry the sofa up the stairs but I was just doing my job. I never imagined that it would lead to a long term injury.
“I decided to pursue compensation after I realised that there should have been better manual handling procedures in place at the school. I hope by highlighting my case that lessons will be learnt."
There are strict laws to ensure that employers take action to prevent manual handling injuries
Steve Gibbons of GMB Northern added: “Too often we hear about members who have damaged their backs or shoulders due to poor manual handling techniques. These injuries can have a real negative impact on their lives.
“Employers must ensure staff are trained in lifting techniques or work out ways to avoid lifting situations like the ones faced by this member.”
Fiona Belgian from Thompsons Solicitors added: “There are strict laws to ensure that employers take action to prevent manual handling injuries. Employers should avoid lifting that presents a danger of personal injury and at the very least have a written policy as part of an overall health and safety strategy which addresses the risks their workers face.”
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