A factory worker who suffered a fractured foot after he was provided with the wrong type of equipment to move alloy bars has received compensation after help from the GMB.

Michael Kirby, 47, from Sheffield suffered two fractured metatarsals in his left foot and was off work for seven weeks following the accident at Ross & Catherall Ltd in Sheffield.

The machine operator had been trained to move the five foot long alloy bars from the floor to a machine by picking them up using a scissor clamp and swinging them into the machine from five feet away. One of the bars dropped out of the clamp, landing on his foot.

Although he was wearing steel capped boots with a built in metatarsal guard, the impact of the heavy metal was so great that it broke his foot.

Mr Kirby’s foot was put in an aircast boot and he needed crutches to get around. He was unable to manage stairs and had to rely on help from his family during his recovery.

After the accident staff at the alloy manufacturer were told to move the bars closer to the floor before bringing them up to the level of the machine rather than swinging them around. Later a different type of clamp with curved interlocking forks was introduced to move the bars.

Thompsons pursued a claim for compensation

Mr Kirby contacted his trade union, the GMB, for advice and Thompsons Solicitors was instructed to pursue a claim for compensation.

Ross & Catherall admitted liability and settled the claim out of court for £6,500.

Mr Kirby said: “After the accident I was virtually housebound for several weeks. I found it difficult to get around on my crutches and I could only get upstairs to my bedroom by using the stair lift we fortunately already had installed in the house.

“I was frustrated at being injured when I was only doing my job in the way I had been told to do it. It was obviously a dangerous system because after my accident steps were taken to prevent swinging the bars and we were provided with a different type of clamp to move the bars.”

Andy Worth from the GMB said: “Our member was injured because he had been trained to move these alloy bars in an unsafe way. There was no risk assessment of the job which would have highlighted the danger of swinging the bars and the need for a more appropriate scissor clamp to be used to prevent workers being injured.”

Teresa Marriott from Thompsons Solicitors added: “This employer failed to take into consideration the health and safety ramifications of the job. It is the employers’ responsibility to provide suitable work equipment and to ensure that safe systems of work are used. In this case a quick assessment would have highlighted the potential dangers of the method and equipment used and would have been cheaper than paying compensation to an injured worker.”