Case 17: Back injury caused by lifting trays from a machine Occupational rehabilitation case studies


Major multi-site biscuit and snack manufacturer with an Occupational Health Department (OHD).


A male employee attended the OHD; he had pulled his back whilst lifting a tray from a ‘vibrating grader’ machine.

He had tenderness and pain along the right side of his lumbar region. He was advised to go home, rest and take anti-inflammatories for 48 hours and if no better to see his GP. The following day he had ‘stiffened up’ and he was advised to keep as active as possible and to continue with the anti-inflammatories.


The employee was advised that as soon as he was less stiff and could comfortably drive, that restricted duties could be found in his work area.

He saw his GP the following day as he had continued to become stiff. He was prescribed Tramadol, but only took them a couple of times whilst he continued with regular anti-inflammatories. He discussed with his GP that the OHD had stated that restricted duties could be accommodated and a week later he returned to work. His Team Manager found duties that did not involve lifting and he started on 4 hours/day, increasing to full hours within the week.

OHD referred him to physiotherapy for advice as to how to prevent a re-occurrence. He had 2 sessions of physio and within 3 weeks he was back to completely normal duties and hours.


The successful outcome in part resulted from the employee receiving the correct medical advice immediately after the injury. Additionally, the employee was happy to return to work under the benefits of a rehabilitation programme.

Is this page useful?

Updated 2023-06-15