A 32 year-old glasscutter who worked at Solaglas Limited in Kent has been awarded £5,500 in compensation in an accident at work which the firm could have prevented with correct health and safety procedures.

His claim for compensation was backed throughout by the GMB Southern Region and its lawyers Thompsons.

The judge at Canterbury County Court found that Solaglas was negligent in not updating protective equipment after a similar accident in 2000.

Accident at Work

In May 2002, Martin Supple, from Whitstable, Kent, who worked at Solaglas's Marshwood Close Industrial Estate site in Canterbury, was placing a large piece of glass into a wooden rack, when the glass hit a metal girder. It shattered leaving a bone-deep laceration to his right shoulder.

Solaglas denied liability, claiming that because Mr. Supple had ten years experience as a glasscutter with them, and had used the rack safely for years, he was responsible for the accident. But it emerged in court that the firm had failed to implement health and safety procedures after a similar accident in 2000.

GMB regional secretary, Richard Ascough, comments: "I welcome this decision and commend the work undertaken by Thompsons. This case illustrates the importance of union membership."

A Solicitor from Thompsons Solicitors in Ilford, said: "The judge took the view that if Solaglas had updated the personal protection equipment and removed the metal girder after the first accident in 2000, Mr Supple's accident may never have happened. It is yet another reminder that employers should take health and safety and the use of personal protection equipment seriously - not just wait to be sued before action is taken to protect their employees."

Following Mr Supple's injury, Solaglas removed the metal girder and replaced it with a wooden girder and introduced Kevlar arm and shoulder protectors. Mr Supple had just two weeks off work and returned to work on light duties even though this proved to be difficult.

He remained with the company for a further six months before leaving. 

Martin Supple explains: "This injury has left a thick, lumpy and itchy scar on my shoulder, which I am still very aware of. I was advised that even with plastic surgery the scar would still be visible, so I decided not to go through the further pain of an operation. The injury continues to affect my life, preventing me from playing darts, something I used to do on a regular basis."