A council who ignored complaints from staff about a health and safety risk has paid £10,250 in compensation after an employee damaged her back.

Sharon Kerry, 41, from Leicester, has suffered chronic back pain since the accident at work two years ago.

The hostel duty officer for Leicester City Council was putting money into a safe when she hurt her back in October 2007.

Sharon’s accident accelerated a pre-existing back condition by two to three years. She is now deciding whether to undergo surgery for her injury.

Employers settled claim out of Court

Employees had complained on a number of occasions about the position of the safe which was on the floor. Users had to kneel or bend down to access it.

Following the accident Sharon, who has worked for the council for six years, contacted her union, the GMB, which instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for accident compensation.

Leicester City Council admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.

Sharon said: “We had complained time and again about the safe. It was awkward to get into and should have been moved long before I had the accident. Fortunately since pursuing my claim the safe has now been moved

“I am still suffering from back pain and have been told that I can have surgery on my back but there is a 20% chance that treatment will worsen my condition. I am now trying to decide what would be for the best.”

Back injuries can be painful and disabling

Andy Worth from the GMB said: “It is unacceptable that the council ignored health and safety concerns about the location of the safe. They should have risk assessed the problem when it was brought to their attention and moved it long before Sharon’s accident. The council’s failure to listen and take simple steps to avoid injury has left Sharon with a back injury and a difficult decision about whether to have surgery.”

Laura Hadfield from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Back injuries can be painful and disabling. There is no limit to the number of ways they can occur. A simple risk assessment would have made clear the health and safety problems in the safe’s location.”