A GMB member has received £10,000 in damages after a cooker manufacturer failed to put safety measures in place to avoid injuries to assembly line workers.

Michael Mountford from Stoke on Trent suffered serious damage to his shoulder and neck while putting together heavy cookers for Indesit Company UK, based in Blythe Bridge, Staffordshire. His job on the assembly line involved lifting the cookers before adding parts to them.

On the day of the accident the belt was running too quickly, so that Mr Mountford had insufficient time to lift and work on each appliance. As he lifted one cooker it snared on the conveyor belt. He tore ligaments in his neck and shoulder. His evidence was that colleagues had suffered similar accidents in the past yet the firm had done nothing to change working practices.

Mr Mountford was forced to take two months off work and has been told he needs surgery to fix his shoulder.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

The Indesit factory has since closed down, but fortunately Mr Mountford who had worked for the firm for 28 years has found another job.

Following the accident he contacted his union, the GMB, which instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.

Thompsons argued that Mr Mountford’s job should have been carried out by two people to allow for the weight of the cooker.

Indesit admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.

Injury caused by heavy lifting

Mr Mountford said: “On the day of the accident the cookers were too close together and as a result I couldn’t lift them fast enough to add the parts I needed to. They are heavy and when you have to work fast it becomes even harder to lift them. I still suffer from pain in my neck and shoulder and have been told I need an operation. I’m only glad I’ve been able to find another job. I can no longer lift and that is a worry as it affects my future employability.”

Joe Morgan from the GMB said: “Employers need to be more aware of the health and safety issues faced by their employees and should address complaints when they are made. Indesit’s concession on liability in our member’s case shows that failing to amend work practices when there have been similar accidents in the past is legally unacceptable.”

Monica Bhakri at Thompsons Solicitors added: “The Manual Handling Operation Regulations are specifically aimed at avoiding injury from heavy lifting. The cookers in this case were far too heavy for one person to lift and others had been hurt before. Previous accidents and a failure to amend work practices is almost always evidence of negligence.”