Loss Amount: $51,000
Situation: A client’s dog had been operated on and its owner was ready to take it home. She asked for assistance loading the animal into her vehicle. A veterinary technician walked the 90-pound animal to the client’s car and attempted to lift it into the back seat, but as she twisted and bent to maneuver the animal into place, she felt a terrible pain in her lower back.
The employee was treated for a lumbar strain. She was initially off work for a month while she received medication and physical therapy. She then returned in a temporary modified job with restrictions to her ability to lift, bend stoop or climb. Over the next couple of months her condition deteriorated, however, and the employer was not able to meet more limiting restrictions that were then set by the employee’s physician. Treatment continued for more than a year while the employee was unable to work. Ultimately, the claim settled. The employee had a permanent disability that prevented her from returning to the job.
Lesson Learned: Sometimes manual handling tasks become hazardous because they involve a variety of stressors that combine to increase the potential for injury. This is a situation that could have been prevented.
- Lifting heavy loads is hazardous. At least two employees should have worked together to lift the heavy dog.
- Lifting, twisting and bending at the same time dramatically increases strain on the body and the likelihood of injury. Plan out complex tasks like this. Consider the best way to transfer a load, the animal in this case, that involves the least amount of combined lifting, twisting and bending motions. Again, at least two staff members working together as a team is always best in these situations.
- Use equipment to your advantage. Gurneys and rolling carts can significantly reduce the lifting strain. Clear equipment policies use should be in place.
For further assistance in preventing all types of losses, call VISC at 888.762.3143.