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Jake  
#1 Posted : 06 February 2019 12:09:06(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Jake

Is it always?

We've had a operative take time off work due to pain in their arm (their duties include manual handling), however they haven't had an accident and can't pinpoint a reason for the pain, just that the pain started during work time, but not during/immediately after they were using their arms or conducting manual handling. No other reason/cause can be found (in work and outside of work) for the pain. Doctors confirmed nothing else wrong and for them to take pain releif and rest.

We've had a few of these and I'd like to take a view of recording/reporting everything vs being pragmatic.

We could defer to the assumption that it's pain due to a cumulative use of their arms during manual handling, but there is no way to know that this is the case.

How woudl you classify this? Must an onset of pain be from an accident if no other medical condition / cause can be determined?

Thanks

Jake

DaveBridle  
#2 Posted : 06 February 2019 12:23:17(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
DaveBridle

Couple of things that I see with this:

  • Has the medical professional (GP) diagnosed any injury?  Is it just a strain or muscle fatigue etc?
  • Is the affected member of staff releatively new to the role or has not previously undertaken a similar role?
  • Whilst I cannot ask directly, is their age on the lower scale of employees?

I as these as it maybe that an employee who is either not used to manual handling as a regular part of their duties may suffer from significant fatigue in their muscles (i.e. they are not used to it).  This is particularly the case with either young or developing adults or those who switch roles where previously they hadn't had to do such tasks.

I would suggest that you look at your work processes in relation to this employee and what manual handling tasks they are required to undertake.  A full assessment should also include the individual being asked to do manual handling and their physical limitations or other factors.

On the issue of recording - the fact that they have had to consult a medical professional should raise concerns that all is not well with your manual handling assessments and should be reviewed as a matter of priority.  Failing to do so could well lead to individual harm, reporting of further injuries and possible litigation all beacuse the organisation has failed to act upon the warning signs.

So an injury can occur without there being an accident.

Mr.Flibble2.0  
#3 Posted : 06 February 2019 13:24:44(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Mr.Flibble2.0

Hi Jake,

Manual Handling Injuries are always tricky ones and difficult to prove if it was caused by the work process or a pre-exsisting injury or condition. It's also difficult to prove if there is any problem at all and the person isn't just 'putting it on' (yes this does happen).

If the Dr's cannot find an issue and no one else is reporting issues etc then I would just record it in the Accident Book (this isn't accepting liability etc) and do a return to work assessment with this person and monitor.

In terms of can you have an Injury without an Accident, things like Ocupational Injuries and Diseases  often devlop over time and can be caused by normal work processes i.e the person was doing nothing wrong, nothing went wrong at the time.

Hsquared14  
#4 Posted : 06 February 2019 13:41:18(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Hsquared14

I would take a slightly difference approach. I would class this as a medical issue and not as an accident. I keep a separate log of medical issues that I would not expect to investigate in the same way as an accident. I would not complete an accident report for a medical condition. If we had a spate of such issues I would then put an investigative process into place looking at Work Related Upper Limb Disorders but as these rarely result from a discrete incident (accident) I still wouldn't raise accident related paperwork. Does that make sense? It's not an accident, it might be work related but I would classify it and investigate it on a different footing to an accident.
thanks 2 users thanked Hsquared14 for this useful post.
A Kurdziel on 07/02/2019(UTC), nic168 on 07/02/2019(UTC)
chris.packham  
#5 Posted : 06 February 2019 14:51:07(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
chris.packham

There is actually quite a significant difference between an accident and what I would term an adverse health effect. With an accident there is almost always a close like between cause and effect. If someone falls off a ladder and hits the ground then it is fairly clear what caused the injury. If this was in the workplace then it will be fairly clear that this was work related, if away from work the not occupational.

With health issues firstly the effect can be chronic. The causes (note plural) may be several and the effect only become apparent after a considerable time, possibly years after the events that caused the problem occurred. The causes may be varied and some of the contributory causes not occupational. So my definition of an occupational adverse health effect is one that is caused totally or substantially by conditions within the workplace. Often allocating the relative significance between work and non-work causes can be a matter of judgement. Sometimes it may not be possible to identify these with any great certainty.

Chris

thanks 1 user thanked chris.packham for this useful post.
A Kurdziel on 07/02/2019(UTC)
KieranD  
#6 Posted : 06 February 2019 16:35:50(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
KieranD

Jake

Many questions arise in relation to your assertion that 'but there is no way to know that this (cumulative strain injury) is the case' unless you have conducted thorough task analyses and identified the rull rnage of hazards associated with retpetitive motions of the upper ams and shoulder, use of force and maladaptive postuires.

Should a legal claim of personal injury damage arise, valid and convincing ways of justifying your actions or omssissions include video-ing at least two of the workers in risk-associated roles and documentinat the measurements of their limbs, working heights and associated ey-level heights .

Should an employee's solicitor commission a chartered ergonomist to do this data-gathering, you can dispute it validly only on the basis of data you yourself have gathered about the target employers, their working positures, actions, equipment and tools.

Xavier123  
#7 Posted : 07 February 2019 10:09:52(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Xavier123

Originally Posted by: Jake Go to Quoted Post

Is it always?

I'd go as far to say an injury is never the same as an accident (albeit it may be accidental which I venture is a slightly different point).

Accidents may occur with no loss.  Accidents may cause injuries. Some injuries are caused by accidents. They are distinctly separate matters and should not be conflated as otherwise the (hopefully uncontentious) example sentences above couldn't be true.

nic168  
#8 Posted : 07 February 2019 10:13:42(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
nic168

 Jake, i had a similar query yesterday, woman with "intermittant- but- persistant-when its there" pain in her left elbow. We ruled out DSE as she is very right dominant, she has no recollection of knocks or injuries . But it is definitely worse when she has been at work. ( Part time worker)

Clearly work is a factor, but I am stumped as to a specific cause.

 suggeste she sees a GP and we will look into this when we are both in teh same location.

One I idea I floated was that she leans on the left when she answers the phone- she says no, but I may lurk about and observe.

I will record this as an observation and update accordingly when she has seen a GP

thanks 1 user thanked nic168 for this useful post.
johnc on 07/02/2019(UTC)
Jake  
#9 Posted : 07 February 2019 14:04:34(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Jake

Thanks all for the interesting replies! I did expect a mixed bag of opinions on this :-)

I came to the conclusion that this was not an accident, but we have recorded the event as a note of its occurrence.

We have a planned review of manual handling activites underway anyhow, so we'll capture some of the good points Kieran makes during this.

Cheers 

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