Roy Gardiner, a member of Unite the Union, has secured compensation after he fell twice on the icy tailgate of a lorry while working for Stonegate Farmers.

Surgery and months of rehabilitation

Mr Gardiner, of Melksham in Wiltshire, was working for Stonegate Farmers’ delivery firm when he slipped on the icy tailgate on two separate occasions while loading pallets into his van. Although his first fall was not bad enough to force him to stop working, it weakened his shoulder to the extent that – after the second, more severe fall less than a year later - he was left with a torn rotator cuff which required surgery and months of rehabilitation with a physiotherapist.

Mr Gardiner’s line of work required him having to work in the outdoors no matter the weather, and his employers had consistently failed to provide him with a bag of salt to spread on the tailgate to prevent him slipping on particularly icy days.

Forced to retire

The surgery left him with just 50% use of his shoulder and, while his employers initially paid out sick pay, this soon dried up and Roy was forced to retire. To add insult to injury when he tried to claim on insurance he had taken out against the risk that he might lose his job, he was told that he had failed to do so within a specific time frame since the accident and the insurers refused to pay out.

Employer remained unapologetic

In response to the claim Stonegate falsely claimed that Roy was already suffering from a pre-existing shoulder injury and offered no apology or sympathy to an employee who had worked for them for over 40 years.

Mr Gardiner said: “My employers of 40-plus years were so penny pinching that they would even fork out for a bag of salt which would have cost them a few £'s. Instead their meanness has cost me my health and my job.”

Unhappy with his treatment by insurer and employer alike, Mr Gardiner raised the issue with his union, UNITE, whose Legal Services instructed Thompsons Solicitors to bring a case for compensation.

A clear breach of safety standards

Alan Tomala, Regional Officer at Unite the Union commented: “Stonegate failed to ensure that our member had what he needed to remove the ice from his tail lift and as a result he was forced to retire from a job he had enjoyed for four decades. Stonegate clearly breached workplace safety standards and failed to provide the most basic of protections that could easily have prevented the accidents from happening in the first place. We are pleased that Unite Legal Services and Thompsons Solicitors were able to bring this case to a positive resolution for our member Mr Gardiner.”