A UNITE member who was forced to give up his job after he suffered a serious foot injury at work has received £210,000 in compensation.

The 55-year-old, from Retford in Nottinghamshire spent a year in rehabilitation learning how to walk after he suffered a complex fracture to his right foot following the accident at the Cottam Power Station. 

The member, who had been a mechanical engineer for more than 30 years, was employed by Loyal Grove Ltd. His employers were contracted to provide the necessary labour for a refurbishment of the power station being undertaken by EDF Energy on behalf of Alstom Power Ltd.

At the time of the accident he was dismantling and maintaining a turbine when he tripped over an unguarded sight glass, used to monitor the flow of oil through the station’s generator, which was sticking six inches out of the ground.

Serious Injuries caused by accident at work

He needed two operations to his foot and spent six weeks bedridden in traction. He then had to spend a year in rehabilitation learning how to walk again. 

His foot has now healed but he still walks with a limp and can no longer work in heavy industry.

He said: “It took over a year to walk again. I still have a limp due to having no movement in my ankle, but I have learnt how to get around better than I thought I would. I miss being able to work in my old job but I get tired very easily now and know that it is beyond my capabilities.”

Following the accident he contacted his union, Unite, to enquire about claiming compensation. Unite instructed its lawyers Thompson Solicitors which was successful in settling the claim against Alstom Power and EDF Energy after proceedings were issued. Neither firm admitted liability but Alstom paid 80% of the compensation and EDF 20%.

Every aspect of workplace health and safety is important

The member added: “When I realised just how bad my injury was I thought I would never work again. I felt angry that the sight glass wasn’t guarded and something as small as that had led to such a catastrophic injury. This compensation comes as a huge relief as it takes off the financial pressure the loss of my job had caused.”

Adrian Axtell Unite Regional Secretary added: “This case shows just how important every aspect of workplace health and safety is. A failure to guard a tripping hazard led to our member not only having to relearn how to walk but giving up his job as well. Employers ignore basic health and safety at their peril.” 

Claire White from Thompsons Solicitors said: “This was no simple tripping case. It was brought against two defendants and we had to prove just how negligent they had been in allowing the sight glass to go unguarded. We are pleased we won and this client has been able to recover the substantial wages he would have earned to retirement.”