A pharmaceutical company which provided a faulty bicycle for employees to get around it’s site has paid compensation to a worker who suffered a broken ankle whilst using it.

The bike, estimated to be around 20-years-old, was one of several provided by GlaxoSmithKline at its factory in Ulverston, Cumbria for use by mechanical technicians to get around quickly to attend to any problems in the factory. Technicians had complained on several occasions about their poor state of repair, yet nothing was done.

In October 2007 a 43-year-old technician was using one of the bikes to respond to a call out at the other side of the site when his foot slipped from the broken and worn pedal causing an accident in which he suffered a broken ankle.

He needed surgery to insert a pin into his ankle and may need a further operation in the future to remove it.

He had to take three months off work with his leg which was in plaster for six weeks and four weeks physiotherapy.

The Unite the union member had worked for the firm for 26 years and before the accident was a keen mountain biker. Now he has lost confidence and no longer cycles.

Following the accident he contacted Unite for advice. The union instructed its lawyers, Thompsons Solicitors, to investigate a claim for compensation.

Thompsons gathered evidence to prove there was no inspection or maintenance programme for the bikes. GlaxoSmithKline settled the case out of court for £9,700.

Since the accident the bikes are no longer used to get around the site and a vehicle has been provided instead.

The member said: “We had complained about the state of the bikes a number of times but there was never a system put in place to inspect and repair them. When I broke my ankle and after three colleagues were also involved with accidents I decided enough was enough.”

Paul Finegan, Unite Regional Secretary, added: “There had been four separate accidents on these bikes which could have been easily avoided if they had been properly maintained. After the first accident questions should have been asked about whether the bikes were fit for purpose but it took three more workers to be injured, including a broken ankle, before action was finally taken.”

David Burn from Thompsons Solicitors said: “Well done GlaxoSmithKline for a green transport policy but it resulted in employees being put at risk. The bikes should have been treated like every other piece of work equipment with an inspection and maintenance programme so that any defects were picked up and fixed quickly.”