UNISON is calling for a crackdown on workplace hazards after an injured carpenter won damages for the fall that forced him to retire.

The UK’s largest public sector union helped Michael Perrin of Clydach received a five-figure sum in Swansea County Court after he lost the full use of his ankle while tripping at work.

Mr Perrin had been working at Morriston Hospital, Swansea, in 2003 when the accident happened.

Slipped and fell downstairs

He had been climbing a staircase, which was badly lit and full of litter and debris, when the 51-year-old slipped and fell heavily.

Mr Perrin’s right ankle was damaged and he was forced to have major surgery. 
Despite the operation, the carpenter suffered constant pain and had to retire from his job.

Mr Perrin said: “I didn’t see the rubbish whilst climbing the stairs, but coming down I trod on a wrapper and slipped.

“I grabbed the handrail on the stairs to try to prevent myself from falling, but I completely lost my balance and fell. The rubbish should have been cleared up as a matter of course.

“The accident has caused me no end of problems since it happened. At first I thought it would simply get better and I would be able to return to work, but it just became worse.
“Doctors eventually took away parts of my ankle and I had bone grafts from my hip to repair it.

“A framework of steel plates and bolts were inserted. At one point I was told that I might even lose part of my leg.”

Falling and tripping is the largest cause of accidents in the workplace

Dave Galligan, UNISON’s head of Health for Wales, said: “We are pleased that Michael Perrin has been awarded these damages, as this money will be desperately needed after he lost his career at the hospital.

“However, the money can never make up for the pain he suffered at the hands of the employer, who failed to check the stairs were clear or that they were lit properly.

“Falling and tripping is the largest cause of accidents in the workplace and should not be happening, as this type of fall is preventable.

“Employers should take this issue very seriously and work to reduce potential hazards in the workplace.

“Hopefully, this will make more employers become extra vigilant about putting employees at risk.”

Staircase should have been properly fitted and maintained

Petra Williams, Mr Perrin’s representative at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “It was clear that the staircase should have been properly lit and maintained.

“All employers have a duty of care to ensure that any place of work is clean and free from danger.

“The fact is that this part of the hospital was accessible by workers in the normal course of their duties and the Trust should have made provision for regular cleaning, as well as adequate lighting.”