Unite the Union is reminding employers about the importance of carrying out risk assessments in the workplace, even in emergency situations, after a bank’s employee fractured his wrist when trying to fix a gushing water pipe.

The 51-year-old from Romford, Essex needed to take 10 weeks off work as an electrician for a leading high street bank after he slipped whilst attempting to control a flood in the bank’s chiller plant room, which is used to prevent computer equipment from overheating.

A water pipe had burst putting expensive equipment at risk of being destroyed and also risking the bank’s operations.

Slipped on metal plate on the floor

The electrician and his colleagues were asked to solve the problem urgently and attempted to sweep away the water so they could fix the source. As he did so he slipped on a submerged metal plate on the floor.

No risk assessment had been carried out by the bank’s bosses to ensure its employees were acting safely.

Following the accident the Unite member’s wrist was put in plaster and he had to have a course of physiotherapy. He has now returned to work but has been left with reduced movement in his wrist.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

Unite instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation. Thompsons argued that had a risk assessment taken place the threat of someone slipping on the metal plate would have been spotted and appropriate action could have been taken.

The bank admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.

The member said: “There was such concern about saving the equipment that any concerns for health and safety went out of the window. In hindsight I can see that someone with responsibility should have done a risk assessment to outline the safest possible way to get the emergency situation under control. Unfortunately hindsight won’t help to return full movement to my wrist.”

Risk assessments are important tools to avoid accidents

John Rowse from Unite the Union added: “Risk assessments are important tools to avoid accidents like this from happening. It is all too easy to lose sight of health and safety procedures during an emergency situation but often this is the time when accidents are most likely to happen. Undertaking a risk assessment before taking any action can help bring a situation under control before it escalates even further.

Tara Swainson-Jenkins from Thompsons Solicitors added: “This accident could have been avoided if someone had thought through the best way to handle the flood before ordering everyone to rush in without any concern for the consequences.”