Slipped at work
Just a week before the accident the PCS union member had written to bosses saying he needed new work boots as a matter of urgency. It was the second time he had raised the issue but his requests were ignored.
The sole on his work boots had become so worn that he feared he would slip and in July 2011 they did cause him to slip from a foot high walkway at Dover Docks whilst he was monitoring lorries as part of his duties as an executive officer for the Border Force.
Having fallen from the walkway the 47-year-old from Kent initially landed on his left foot but fell backwards landing on his side striking his left elbow on the pavement. He suffered a fractured elbow, jarring to his neck and exacerbated a previous knee injury.
He had to take four weeks off work and when he returned he was on light duties. Eight months later and despite physiotherapy on his neck he is still not back to full duties.
Requests for replacement boots had been ignored
Following the accident he was given replacement boots. He contacted his trade union for advice because he felt it had taken an accident for his employers to react to his requests for important work equipment.
The PCS instructed its lawyers, Thompsons Solicitors, to investigate a claim for compensation. UK Border Force did not admit liability but settled the case out of court for £10,000.
The PCS member said: “I had requested new boots several months previously and I had written again just a week before the accident. I knew that the sole was dangerously slippery but our contract says we must wear the work shoes provided for us so I had no choice but to continue wearing dangerous shoes.
“Immediately after my fall I was provided with new work boots but by then it was too late, I had broken my elbow and I’ve been on light duties ever since. I’m hoping I’ll be back up to full duties in the coming weeks but it is now approaching the first anniversary of my accident.”
Paul O'Connor, PCS national officer for UKBA, said: “Our member had twice asked for a new pair of work boots but this simple request was ignored. For the cost of listening to its employees and a new pair of work boots the Border Force has paid out thousands of pounds and our member has gone through agony."
Gwen Wylie at Thompsons Solicitors said: “Having the correct footwear in the workplace may seem trivial – the government may call it health and safety madness - but as this accident shows; wearing work boots which are fit for purpose can mean the difference between being able to get on with your job or ending up in accident and emergency.”
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