A member of Unite the Union has been awarded compensation following an accident involving a faulty lorry tailgate.

The 52-year-old from Bristol was working for South Gloucestershire Council as a gardener at the time of his accident.

He had driven a lorry to a cemetery to collect a dumper truck and needed to lower the lorry’s tailgate so that the truck could be driven onto the back.

The gardener had to release the tailgate from a hinge in order to lower the ramp, but as he did so, the tailgate crashed down to the ground with force trapping his hand and wrenching his right arm. He had to lie on the ground to pull his hand from beneath the weight of the tailgate.

Three operations in two years

He was still in pain a week after the incident and was told by his local hospital that he had pulled two nerves in his spine. He went on to have three operations and physiotherapy over a period of two years to repair the nerve damage but still suffers pins and needles and stiffness in his neck and shoulders.

His injury left him unable to work for three years because he wasn’t physically fit enough to carry out the heavy lifting tasks his job required of him.

Forced to find a new job

The Unite the Union member said: “Eventually after three years of building the strength back up in my arm, neck and shoulder I still had to look for alternative employment as I knew I would never be able to do the same job again.

“I have been so frustrated since my accident and because of the limits it has put on my life. As an active man who has worked in a physical job for years I feel I have had a lot taken away from me just because my employers failed to carry out proper maintenance checks on their work vehicles.”

Unite Legal Services instructed Thompsons Solicitors to make a claim on their member’s behalf.

Employer failed to protect its staff

Steve Preddy, from Unite the Union, said: “Defective work equipment causes accidents and this case is a clear example of an employer’s failing to protect their staff.

“Work vehicles should have regular health checks to make sure that the fixtures and fittings, like the tailgate, are safe for use. Our member has been left with damage to his neck and shoulder which has turned his domestic and work life upside down simply because South Gloucestershire Council failed to carry out basic checks.”