John Williams, a UNISON member for nine years, was leaning into a car on a mechanical ramp to inspect the handbrake when, without his knowledge, a trainee colleague raised the ramp from ground level.

Having completed the checks John stepped out of the vehicle – expecting to place his feet onto the ground – and instead found himself falling five feet onto the concrete floor below.

John sustained neck, shoulder and lower back injuries and contacted his union, UNISON, for support. UNISON put him in touch with Thompsons Solicitors who successfully pursued a case on his behalf.

Thompsons’ medical investigations detailed the impact injuries to John’s neck and back but also revealed existing arthritis which was made worse by the impact. The combination of his injuries forced John into an unwanted early retirement.

Failings of local government employer

Blaenau Gwent Country Borough Council were forced to admit that they had breached their health and safety obligations by failing to provide adequate training and supervision to the trainee.

John Williams said: “I was planning to stay on at work for at least the next couple of years as I was fit and healthy enough to continue. However, after the accident this just wasn’t possible. Effectively the accident forced me out from the job I loved and robbed me of vital future earnings.”

Margaret Thomas, UNISON Regional Secretary in Wales said: “This accident was totally avoidable and demonstrates the importance of all staff being either properly trained or adequately supervised.”

Justin Thomas from Thompsons Solicitors said: “This case highlights the dangers of a workplace where employers haven’t carried out basic risk assessments. Had the trainee received adequate supervision and training, John would still be in work now.”