A UNISON member from Mansfield has received compensation from her employer after falling through a hole in the floor caused by the employer taking up a board but not replacing it.

Karen Dowling, a senior support worker with Leicester Housing Association, was working normally when, as she walked around the building, her left foot went through a hole in the floor. Her employers had not only failed to fill the hole but had neglected to put up any warning signs.

The member sustained extensive bruising to her left leg, a cracked heel bone, and broke her ankle in two places. She required hospital care, her leg was put in plaster and she had to have both hydrotherapy and physiotherapy.

Karen was unable to walk at all for two weeks and ended up off work for seven months in total.

She contacted her union, UNISON, for support who instructed Thompsons Solicitors. Thompsons secured damages from Leicester Housing Association to compensate Karen for her injuries and loss of earnings.

Speaking about her experience, Karen said: “The legal process was quite painless compared to the disruption to my daily life. My husband had to wait on me hand and foot which I couldn’t even enjoy because of the pain and frustration of being completely immobile.

“We went through a lot because management didn’t see fit to put up a simple sign to warn employees about the hole”.

Hole in the floor was a known hazard

Helen Black, UNISON Regional Secretary, said: “How more basic does health and safety come than filling in or warning about a hole in the floor? It was a known hazard and while Karen was left to pay the physical price for the employer’s lack of action they also landed themselves with a hefty damages bill.

“We will continue to hold negligent employers to account as long as workplaces fail to meet the expected standards for safe working.”

Carol Wild from Thompsons Solicitors, who represented Karen, said: “Leicester Housing Association was clearly and obviously at fault for Karen’s injuries. We sincerely hope that lessons are learned from this incident so that in future action is taken to address hazards before people get hurt.”