A garden centre worker who damaged his back during a workplace accident has warned employers to make sure employees are trained in manual handling techniques.

Mark Lee, 41, from Heckmondwike in West Yorkshire was off work a month following the accident while working for Whitleys Garden Centre in Mirfield in 2008.

Mr Lee was attempting to lift a 30 kilo box which had been left in the yard by a colleague. The box was unmarked.

When he lifted the box he felt a sharp pain in his back. He suffered from muscle strain and even when he returned to work he was on light duties because he still suffered from pain.

Following the accident he contacted his union the GMB which instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.

Whitleys did not admit liability but settled the claim out of court for £4,500.

Decided to make claim for compensation

Mr Lee said he decided to pursue compensation because he was concerned about his loss of wages. He also felt his employers should have taken more care to avoid the injury.

He said: “I decided to pursue compensation because I was concerned about my colleagues. I now know the box should have been marked so I knew how heavy it was and I should have had someone helping me to move it.”

Tim Roache, Regional Secretary at the GMB added: “Back injuries can be painful and debilitating. Employers must ensure staff are trained in lifting techniques or work out ways to avoid situations like the ones faced by Mr Lee.”

Sarah Wilkinson from Thompsons Solicitors added: “There are strict laws to ensure that employers take action to prevent injuries caused by lifting heavy objects. Employers should have a written policy as part of an overall health and safety strategy which addresses the risks their workers face.”