A Unite the Union member who was left with permanent damage to his wrist after an accident at a factory in County Durham has been awarded £125,000 in compensation by global manufacturing company NSK Bearings.

The 42 year old production operative fell heavily and fractured his wrist after his tripped over a fence post which was there to guard the motor of a machine but which restricted entry to his work space.

An investigation by Unite Legal Services, who pursued a claim on behalf of their injured member, found that removing the fence post had been on NSK Bearing’s ‘health and safety to-do list’.

The man underwent surgery following the fall and has since developed aggressive early-onset arthritis which inhibits his personal and professional activities.

Removing the obstruction had been on ‘health and safety to-do list’

“I was off work for six months after the accident and have only been able to work on restricted shifts since because a continual shift pattern would exacerbate my arthritis. I have worked at NSK for over 21 years and thought I would continue to work full time for them for years to come” said the production operative.

“The worst part is that if my employers had made an effort to keep on top of their ‘to do’ list this would never have happened.

“My wrist will never fully recover and if anything is likely to get worse. Not only has it changed my working life, I now have to rely on family and friends to help with everyday chores like DIY and gardening because my wrist will only take so much.”

Employers failed to remove an obvious hazard

Karen Reay, from Unite the Union, said: “A health and safety ‘to do’ list is of no value to the workforce if the safety changes it identifies don’t get done.

“When will employers wake up to the fact that keeping up with basic health and safety benefits employer and employee alike? NSK Bearings have paid out a six-figure sum because they failed to remove an obvious hazard. That obvious hazard could have been removed at a fraction of the cost of the damages paid out and our member wouldn’t have had his working and domestic life turned upside down.”