A council worker, who suffered a slipped disc after being forced to use a broken chair at work, has received £10,000 in compensation, with help from UNISON.

Kay Fagg nearly died while undergoing a back operation after Southend-on-Sea Borough Council failed to replace her chair when it broke in early 2003.

The 62-year-old now has long-term lower back pain and has been forced to retire.

She was working as a sheltered housing officer at the council when the chair’s wheels stopped working, which meant it could no longer be moved easily.

Despite complaining to her employers, she was never given a replacement and was forced to continue using it.

It wasn’t until Mrs Fagg was diagnosed with the slipped disc and returned to work after the operation that she was finally given correct seating.

Take health and safety checks seriously

Ann Vinden, UNISON’s Head of Local Government in the Eastern Region, said:“Kay Fagg’s employers should have replaced her chair as soon as they realised there was a problem.

“The solution was simple, but her injury was left to evolve, until it got so bad she had to have a serious operation and retire from a job that she loved.

“Employers must listen to staff, take health and safety checks seriously and resolve issues as soon as they start.”

Mrs Fagg, a UNISON member, who lives in Southend-on-Sea, said: “From when I started in 1992 the problem evolved, as the job became more desk bound.

“I was in constant raw pain from my back, after my disc collapsed and trapped a sciatic nerve. And then when I had to have an operation I nearly bled to death on the operating table. After six months off work following my operation I finally had a risk assessment carried out.

“But it took them a year to sort out my office fully, which I am very angry about. I still have to take every day as it comes and do regular back exercises, as I don’t want to lose the ability to walk.

“People do not realise how debilitating it is to suffer from back pain and how common this type of situation is. The money will go some way towards the loss of wages and will help me with equipment I may soon need.”

Forced to use a broken chair for almost nine months

Kam Singh, from Thompson,s Solicitors, said: “It is unforgiveable that Mrs Fagg was forced to use a broken chair for almost nine months.

“Office workers who use computers are protected by strict health and safety rules, which mean they must be provided with equipment which can prevent them from suffering from injuries like this.

“Mrs Fagg’s bosses should have listened to her concerns, carried out a risk assessment and replaced her chair.”