Suffering an injury while at work is the last thing anyone wants to experience, with spinal injuries being among the most serious. But, what type of spinal injuries are employees actually able to make a claim for?
Everybody wants to feel as though they are well protected at work, and are able to avoid suffering any serious injuries. However, as we all know, accidents can and do happen, leading to regrettable incidents.
As an employer, the last thing you’ll want is for one of your employees to suffer a serious injury whilst working. Among the worst type of injuries an employee could suffer is a spinal cord injury, especially as these can often leave long-lasting effects.
Not only this, but anyone who suffers a spinal injury at work that was not their fault could be in line to make a spinal injury compensation claim. This means that you need to be well aware of what the potential risks are and what sort of spinal injuries someone could experience at work. Here, we discuss exactly that so, to find out more, read on below…
What Are the Most Common Causes of Spinal Cord Injuries?
Slips, Trips and Falls
First and foremost, the most obvious cause of spinal injuries in a work setting is through slips, trips, and falls. This is primarily because these sorts of accidents can happen at any time and in any work setting. Someone working in an office could easily slip on a set of stairs, the same as someone working in a warehouse could fall from a great height.
Slips, trips, and falls are often avoidable, particularly if an employer takes every possible step to ensure that a working environment is free from any potential hazards. This will often include taking very simple steps such as removing tripping hazards from the floor, removing unnecessary clutter, and putting signs up to warn people of slippery surfaces.
Motor Vehicle Accidents
If your business uses motor vehicles in any capacity (for example, if you have couriers, or employees that travel from site to site), this poses a potential risk of spinal cord injuries. Road traffic collisions can result in heavy blunt force trauma, which often leads to spinal injuries.
As an employer, you can reduce the risk of this occurring by ensuring that every vehicle used is frequently checked for any potential faults that would put an employee at risk. You could also implement thorough and recurring employee training to operate said vehicle.
Heavy Machinery Failure
If your business uses heavy machinery, you’ll be well aware that this can pose a serious risk. If an employee uses a piece of machinery incorrectly or unsafely, this may prevent them from being able to make a compensation claim for a spinal cord injury. But, if the machinery fails for any reason, this will likely be your responsibility.
What can you do to prevent this? The obvious steps apply. Have routine safety checks and maintenance scheduled, so you can be sure that every piece of equipment is fit for purpose and won’t put any of your employees at risk of suffering a spinal cord injury.
Types of Spinal Injuries an Employee Could Claim For
There are four main types of spinal cord injuries an employee may be able to bring a claim forward for. These are:
- Cervical spinal cord injuries
- Thoracic spinal cord injuries
- Lumbar spinal cord injuries
- Sacral spinal cord injuries
Cervical Spinal Cord Injuries
Cervical spinal cord injuries affect the head and neck region above someone’s shoulders. The cervical portion of the spine, as it’s known, comprises of seven vertebrae in the neck.
As this portion of the spine is the closest to the brain and affects a large portion of the body, cervical spinal cord injuries are typically the most serious form of spinal cord injury. They usually result in tetraplegia/quadriplegia, which means that there’s limited or no feeling below the shoulders and neck.
Thoracic Spinal Cord Injuries
Thoracic spinal cord injuries affect the upper chest, mid-back, and abdominal muscles. The thoracic spine is located in the upper and middle part of the back and comprises of 12 vertebrae.
The symptoms associated with a thoracic spinal cord injury will usually depend on the level of nerve damage. Spinal pain can extend to pain in the arms, legs or around the rib cage.
Someone suffering with a thoracic spinal cord nerve damage may experience:
- Significant leg weakness or loss of sensation
- Loss of feeling in genitals
- No control of urine or stool
- Lower back pain
While thoracic spinal fractures are serious, they can often heal with conservative treatment such as bracing, or surgery.
Lumbar Spinal Cord Injuries
Lumbar spinal cord injuries affect the legs and hips. The lumbar spine comprises the lowest portion of the spinal cord, included the five vertebrae below the thoracic section. The lumbar spine carries larger vertebrae than the cervical and thoracic sections.
These types of injuries usually lead to loss of function in the legs and hips, but do not affect the functionality of the upper body.
Lumbar spinal cord injuries often lead to a loss of control over the bowel and/or bladder, but can be managed with special equipment.
Sacral Spinal Injuries
Sacral spinal injuries affect the hips, back of thighs, buttocks, and pelvic organs. The sacral spine is located at the base of the spine and above the tailbone.
There is no spinal cord in the sacrum region, but sacral nerve damage may have very similar symptoms to other forms of spinal cord injuries. For example, there may be:
- A loss of function in the hips and legs.
- Little to no control over the bowel and/or bladder.
Are You Concerned About an Employee Making a Compensation Claim?
In this post, we’ve discussed the types of spinal cord injuries an employee may be able to make a claim for. We’ve also discussed some of the most common ways spinal cord injuries can happen in the workplace.
What are your thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment below!