An Asda lorry driver who damaged his knee during a workplace accident has received compensation after help from his trade union, the GMB.

Ian Burridge, 42, from Newcastle has ended up experiencing symptoms of Osteoarthritis (a degenerative condition) two to five years earlier than he would have due to the incident at work.

Mr Burridge, who has worked for the supermarket’s Washington Depot for 12 years, was delivering goods to an Asda store in Stanley, County Durham when the accident happened in January 2009.

Slipped and fell at work

He was moving a heavy pallet of wine and spirits when he slipped on a piece of cardboard that was itself covering cat litter.  He hit his knee on a pallet truck when he fell.

The cat litter had come from a split bag in the trailer.

Mr Burridge had asked for a brush but was told that there wasn’t one available at the Stanley store and was reduced to attempting to clear up the cat litter with his foot but he hadn’t noticed the cardboard under the pallet nor the cat litter it was hiding.

Following the accident he needed to take strong painkillers and underwent an MRI scan which confirmed the osteoarthritis. There is no cure for the condition which can worsen over time.

Mr Burridge said his knee hurts when he drives and climbs stairs but he is coping with the pain and doing his best to lead his life as normal.

He said: “My knee does cause me problems, particularly when I am driving but I am able to battle through. I do worry about the future as my knee will never be the same again and I am concerned there may come a time when I can no longer drive.”

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

Following the accident Mr Burridge contacted his trade union, the GMB for advice. The GMB instructed Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.

Thompsons argued that the warehouse staff at Asda’s Washington Depot should have removed the waste cardboard before loading the trailer with pallets and should have spotted the hazard caused by the cat litter.

Asda admitted 80% liability and settled the claim out of court for £4,000.

Michael Hopper from the GMB said: “Mr Burridge took advantage of the GMB’s free legal services and we are glad that he did. Whilst Mr Burridge had the spectre of osteoarthritis in later years this accident brought it on much faster than would otherwise have been the case. If his colleagues had taken more care loading up the lorry he may have been pain free for another few years.”

Nicola Waugh from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Mr Burridge has been a victim of his colleagues’ flippant attitude towards health and safety whilst loading up trailers. If they had taken more time and care to ensure the trailer was safe for the driver to unload at the other end then this accident would never have happened.”