Poor health and safety practices at Boots Alliance have left two GMB members with severe back problems.

The members have now received compensation after the GMB instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for damages.

Nigel Williamson, 52, and Robert Cole, 56, both from Nottingham were employed as depot workers for Boots, which runs a chain of chemists across the UK.

They both suffered back and shoulder strain after working at the Nottingham depot with inadequate equipment and without a risk assessment for more than two years.

They were moved from their jobs as warehouse operatives to work in the Units of Dispatch department where they fixed metal cages and wooden pallets.

No lifting equipment or training

They were not given any heavy lifting equipment or training on how to do their job without causing back strain.

No risk assessment was carried out on the job until an injunction was threatened by Thompsons Solicitors.

The men felt the only way they could address the situation was by involving their union.

Robert, who has had to take time off due to back pain and received £5,000 in compensation, said: “I have a bad back, shoulder and knee problems as a result of working in poor conditions for a number of years. I had no training whatsoever.

“I was at my wit’s end with them and I felt the only option I had was to pursue compensation.”

Nigel, who had to take four months off work and received £3,300 in compensation added: “The work was extremely physical. I have never had back problems before but I still suffer from pain now. I found the total lack of any manual handling assistance, safe working procedures and risk assessments extremely frustrating and depressing.”

Employers have a duty of care to keep employees safe

Andy Worth, Midlands and East Coast Regional Secretary of the GMB said: “Our members worked in appalling conditions for a number of years and it took the threat of an injunction for Boots to eventually undertake a risk assessment for their role. It is a sad day when you must sue for compensation in order to make a workplace safe.”

Carol Wild from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Employers have a duty of care to undertake a risk assessment to ensure their employees are safe in the workplace. Where heavy objects must be moved the correct machinery must be provided to reduce the amount of manual handling and the correct training must be given.

“It is appalling that such a large employer like Boots Alliance allowed its standards to slip in this way.”