Broken elbow leads to employment fears for stitcher22 March 2011
Accident at Work
A GMB member who broke his elbow after a fall at work has received £60,000 in compensation after he was left unable to do his job properly.
Geoffrey Skelton, 61, a cast iron stitcher from Chesterfield needed three operations on his elbow following the accident which happened whilst he was employed by Casting Repairs but working at Sheffield Forgemasters Engineering Ltd in September 2005.
His injuries are so bad that nearly six years later he suffers from constant pain and is unable to use heavy vibrating machinery which he needs to do his job. He has been told he needs a further operation which will leave him without use of his arm and unable to work in a role he was trained in as a teenager and has been his job ever since.
Cast iron stitching is a specialist and skilled role. It’s a cold form of welding using compressed air tools.
Broke his elbow after he tripped on a pothole whilst working
Mr Skelton broke his elbow after he tripped on a pothole whilst working on a job at Sheffield Forgemasters.
He was forced to take six weeks off work to allow the fracture to heal but three months later needed an operation because he couldn’t extend his arm fully.
Over the next three years he needed another two operations and ended up taking a total of five months off work. He has now been told he needs a fourth operation, which is likely to reduce the pain in his arm but leave him unable to use it to work.
Mr Skelton, who still works for Casting Repairs and is their only sticher, said his employer had been supportive and he was grateful that they were keen to continue to employ him for his specialist expertise.
But since he can no longer use heavy tools he is missing out on bonus pay and is worried about his employability if he ever needs to apply for another job in the future.
He said: “I am in constant pain and my injury means there are certain tools or jobs I can no longer do. I can’t even do DIY at home. I am a trained fitter but I had to get someone in to fit my kitchen.
“I am very worried about what the future holds. I had plans to work until I am 65. I just hope that I can hold off on this fourth operation to allow me to continue to work until then.”
Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation
Following the accident his trade union, the GMB, instructed Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.
Thompsons argued that Mr Skelton’s employer, Castings Repairs, and Sheffield Forgemasters Engineering Ltd were responsible for the accident. They argued that both firms should have had procedures in place to ensure the workplace was safe.
Thompsons was successful in settling the claim out of court after both firms admitted to share 90% of the liability.
Tim Roache, regional secretary at the GMB said: “Mr Skelton was let down by both his employer and Sheffield Forgemasters Engineering where he was based at the time of the accident. A pothole is a pothole and is a danger. Both firms ignored the risks and a hard working skilled professional has been left with a long term injury and facing potential unemployment.
Amanda Dixon from Thompsons Solicitors said: “Mr Skelton now faces a choice none of us would wish to have - living with constant pain or having an operation which will render him unemployable. His suffering and his awful dilemma could have been avoided had these two firms paid more attention to basic health and safety.”
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