A refuse collector who was forced to take time off work after he fell into a cellar while doing his rounds has received  £3,250 in compensation.

Trevor Dawson, 56, from Sheffield suffered injuries to his neck, shoulder and elbow after he fell 10 foot into the cellar at computer firm Concept Fitzgerald in Sheffield.

The GMB member was collecting rubbish as part of his job with Veolia Environmental Services when the accident happened.

Mr Dawson stepped on a piece of rotten plywood which had been used by Concept to cover the cellar’s access stairs. He fell straight through the wood and tumbled down the steps, severely bruising his back and elbow and causing strain injuries to his neck and shoulder.

He was rushed to hospital and needed to take two weeks off work.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

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

Thompsons argued that Concept Fitzgerald should have made sure the cellar entrance had a proper and safe cover.

The firm admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.

Mr Dawson said: "I was terrified when the wooden cover collapsed beneath me. One moment I was at street level and the next I was falling down a hole that I had no idea how deep it was or what I would land on. Fortunately the plywood broke my fall and my injuries weren't as bad as I had feared, but I was still so badly bruised I had to take time off work.

"My union recommended that I claimed compensation to make sure the company secured the cellar entrance properly and it didn't happen to anyone else."

Accident could easily have been avoided

Tim Roache regional secretary of the GMB said: "This was a dangerous accident waiting to happen and hugely frightening for our member who could have been far more seriously injured.  Hopefully the firm has taken all steps possible to make sure this doesn't happen to anyone else."

Nikki Sharpe from Thompsons Solicitors added: "Property owners have a duty to ensure their premises are kept safe for visitors. Placing a piece of plywood across a cellar entrance let alone a rotten piece of plywood beggars belief. One moment’s thought and it would have been obvious what the risks were, someone could have been killed."