Apprentice suffers herniated disc

Public news

A third year Light Vehicle Apprentice has recently reported a left posterolateral protrusion of the L5/S1 disc affecting the left S1 nerve root injury whilst at work. The apprentice stated that over a period of time, when leaning over engines carrying out various tasks that he started to notice low back discomfort and sharp pain radiating down the left leg.

Even though the task of leaning an engine does not seem to be a high risk manual handling action, sometimes an injury can occur when a worker has been performing a manual task for long periods of time without a break. Some general principles for reducing risks associated with manual handling, which should be incorporated into work practices are:

  • minimise the lifting and lowering forces exerted;
  • avoid the need for bending, twisting and reaching movements; and
  • reduce pushing, pulling, carrying and holding

An effective way of reducing the risks associated with manual handling is to deliver staff training in correct manual handling techniques. Those workers who perform manual handling tasks frequently should receive appropriate training at least every two years to maintain up to date knowledge and awareness on correct manual handling techniques in the workplace.

The host employer was quick to provide onsite treatment and report the injury to the MTA. The MTA then conducted the appropriate investigations and supported the apprentice with his rehabilitation and recovery back to work at the host employer.

The apprentice was certified unfit for work for a few weeks by the doctor to allow the disc protrusion symptoms to settle before being medically cleared to return to light duties. He is now back at work with reduced hours on a gradual return to work program and will be back to normal work duties soon.

The MTA works with a number of members to get apprentices and employees back into the workplace after an injury.

If you have an apprentice or employee that needs help, or you are looking at providing manual handling training in your workplace please contact Cos Lamberto the MTA’s WHS & RTW Coordinator by clicking here.