Compensation for a Hernia Injury at Work

My employer told me I cannot claim compensation for a hernia injury at work as I was provided with training on correct lifting techniques. Is this true?

A hernia caused by heavy lifting at work is certainly grounds for making a personal injury claim, although compensation for a hernia injury at work can only be claimed if the injury resulted from negligence by your employer.

Many employers in Ireland believe that their obligation to protect workers from manual handling injuries starts and ends with the provision of training on correct lifting techniques, although the Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 and other legislative acts require employers to take all practical measures to ensure work duties can be performed safely.

The provision of training is only one health and safety control measure which should be employed in the workplace. Employers must also conduct a risk assessment of any manual handling duties that need to be performed to determine whether the risk of injury can be reduced any further. Lifting equipment should be provided if heavy loads must be lifted, lowered or transported in the workplace and adequate staff should be assigned to potentially dangerous lifting tasks.

It is not just single acts of manual handling which can cause an injury, and prolonged lifting of even relatively small loads has the potential to cause an injury. The body needs to recover between periods of strenuous work, and an employer should ensure lifting duties are rotated between the staff and regular breaks provided between lifting duties.

If your employer failed to take all reasonable measures to reduce the risk of you sustaining an injury at work and placed you at an unacceptable risk of injury, it should be possible to claim compensation for a hernia injury at work against your employer’s liability insurance policy.

A hernia caused by heavy lifting at work is grounds to make a claim; although for your claim to be successful you must be able to prove that your condition developed as a result of your work. Hernias may be suffered for any number of reasons, and they are not always caused by heavy lifting at work.

If you had a weakness in your abdominal wall for example, even lifting ‘safe’ loads could cause you to sustain an injury, which would not be the fault of your employer. Hernias can develop due to medical conditions or excess weight. If your family has a history of hernias or if you have previously suffered from a hernia and your employer was not made aware of this, a claim for compensation for a hernia at work is likely to be problematic.

It is therefore advisable to discuss claiming compensation for a hernia at work with a personal injury solicitor to find out if you are entitled to make a claim. Your medical records will need to be checked and your injury will need to be assessed by a doctor to determine its probable cause. After your case has been investigated, and evidence of employer negligence assessed, you will be advised if a work related hernia compensation claim is possible, and the actions you must take in order to start legal action against your employer.