A community enforcement officer, who was injured because he was issued with ill-fitting, second hand body armour, has received compensation, with help from UNISON.

Anthony Roach, from Eaglescliffe in Teeside, was left with serious back and shoulder problems after being provided with faulty, second-hand armour which he needed as protection from stabbings.

The 31-year-old worked 11-hour shifts for Stockton Borough Council’s neighbourhood services team, investigating complaints in potentially dangerous situations. He had to wear the faulty body armour at all times.

Employer failed to provide appropriate protective equipment

Middlesborough County Court found Stockton Borough Council failed to provide Mr Roach with protective equipment and awarded him £2,000 in compensation.

Dave Prentis, UNISON’s General Secretary, said:

“It is sad that Mr Roach needed body armour to protect him for just doing his job. But it is inexcusable that he was given faulty, second hand body armour that did not even fit him properly.

“Community enforcement officers deal with potentially dangerous situations – if they do not get the right equipment to do their job, it could put their lives at risk.

“The council have made a bad situation worse by not facing up to their responsibilities and choosing to waste a huge amount of time and money fighting this case.”

Anthony Roach said:

“The ill-fitting armour led to a lot of aches, pains and sleepless night.

“I suffered for around 10 months, but it felt like an eternity.

“I am relieved that it is all over and that I have finally been provided with a correctly fitted stab vest.”

Injured worker had complained of problems with equipment

Mr Roach had been given the ill-fitting armour in April 2006. He complained to his superiors in September that it didn’t fit properly and that he had developed back and shoulder pain.

Several of his colleagues had also complained about ill-fitting equipment, but nothing was done about it until Mr Roach was put on light duties in June 2007.

It was found that he had been given second-hand armour from Northumbria Police and the Kevlar plates inserted in the back and front were different sizes.

The weight meant the officer was pulled to the left and he had to compensate by adjusting his body, resulting in injury.

Diane Davison, from Thompsons solicitors, said:

“Mr Roach works in a role, which can at times see him in dangerous situations.

“The council obviously felt his job was so dangerous that body armour became a vital piece of equipment.

“Yet they did not take all reasonable steps to ensure the equipment they were providing was fit for purpose.

Employers have a duty to ensure that protective equipment fits correctly

“If protective equipment is needed in order for an employee to carry out their duties, employers have a duty to ensure that it fits correctly and that it is up to the job.

“In this case, Mr Roach was lucky that his armour never had to prove its effectiveness.”