Case study: £10,000 for airport baggage handler who suffered repetitive strain injury to his shoulder

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Our workplace injury solicitors recently acted for an airport baggage handler who tore his shoulder after his employer failed to comply with the Manual Handling Regulations 1992, including a failure to provide him with adequate training.

Repetitive strain injury due to insufficient training and workplace pressure

Our client, Mr L, worked at an airport as a baggage handler. He received one week of theory-based classroom training at the start of his employment but did not receive the practical on-the-job training that was meant to follow.

Mr L was tasked with a number of jobs, all of which involved manual handling. One of the main tasks he was asked to undertake involved working in the aircraft hold, unloading and loading baggage. Luggage was delivered to and from the hold on a conveyor and it was Mr L’s job to stack them.

The aircraft hold had a very low ceiling and Mr L was unable to stand up straight. This meant that he had to lift heavy luggage (up to 30kg) whilst kneeling and would have to twist his body to stack the luggage. This is against HSE guidance on safe lifting techniques.

The speed of the conveyor was controlled by workers who were loading the luggage at the bottom; there was always two people doing this job. Mr L believed that  two employees should be working in the aircraft hold together, but he regularly carried out this task alone.

As his employer set a target for planes to be turned around in 30 minutes, Mr L felt he had to work very quickly to keep up with the speed at which luggage was being loaded at the bottom. This inevitably put a strain on his body.

During one shift, Mr L felt a tear in his shoulder. He continued to work, but the pain in his shoulder got worse over time. He reported his shoulder pain to his employer who, on occasion, gave him lighter duties but still expected him to continue undertaking manual handling roles.

Mr L was later diagnosed by his GP as having sustained a repetitive strain injury (RSI) to his shoulder, with pain radiating down his arm. It was suggested that he had a partial tear.

As a result of his injury, Mr L left his employment.

Claim for workplace injury

Mr L instructed our personal injury solicitors to claim compensation for his injury at work.

We submitted a claim to the Defendant’s (an airport contractor who employed Mr L) insurers under the disease and illness protocol. This protocol is designed for injuries that have not been sustained in a one-off accident but have cumulated over a period of time.

Liability was denied by the Defendant, advising they had no record of Mr L reporting his injury and disputed that he had worked alone in in the aircraft hold and to the timeframes alleged.

Our workplace injury lawyers challenged this denial of liability following a review of the Defendant’s documents. We noted that their own risk assessment highlighted that practical training should be given to all employees, however, this was not provided to our client. Mr L only received theory-based training based on lifting a straightforward box.

The training did not take into account the unique environment of the aircraft hold where Mr L could not stand up straight and had limited room to manoeuvre, nor did it account for the awkward shapes and sizes of some luggage he was being asked to handle.

Settlement offer

Our solicitors advised Mr L that the next step in his case would be to obtain medical evidence in support of his injuries. However, Mr L advised us that since leaving his job, his symptoms had improved considerably. He also had some other health complications which meant he wanted a quick resolution to the claim. We therefore looked at settlement options with the Defendant.

Despite not receiving an admission of liability from the Defendant, we were able to negotiate a settlement of £10,000 for Mr L.

Contact our workplace injury solicitors in Bristol

If you’ve been injured as a result of a workplace accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Get in touch with our workplace injury solicitors today on 0117 325 2929 or fill out our online enquiry form.


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