Manual handling and cumulative back injury

For many workers manual handling forms a key part of their job. It can involve lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling a load often on a repetitive basis.

A load can be anything from work equipment to a person (such as when moving and handling patients in the care or nursing sectors).

Poor manual handling practice is known to cause musculo-skeletal pain. This can affect any part of the body but most commonly the back and the upper limb (neck, shoulder, arm and hand). Over time this pain can become chronic and disabling requiring absence from work.

Low back pain is the most common form of manual handling injury. It can range from mechanical back pain or back strain to spinal disc problems such as prolapsed or slipped discs.

Where the upper limb is involved the condition is sometimes called ‘RSI’ or ‘work related upper limb disorder’ or WRULD for short.


There might be a number of manual handling risk factors at play in your work which could cause injury. They include:

  • A load which might be heavy or awkward to grip, lift, carry, push or pull
  • There might be twisting, stooping and reaching involved
  • You may have to perform the task on a repetitive basis with inadequate rest or recovery periods
  • The work might not be suitable for you as it requires particular strength or height

If you have sustained a back injury or RSI due to your work you may be entitled to make a claim.

Making a claim

Where it is not possible to avoid manual handling at work your employer has a duty to take steps to reduce the risk of manual handling injury to the lowest level reasonably practicable. If your employer has failed to do so then one of our specialist lawyers can help you make a claim and ensure you obtain the compensation you deserve.

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