Thompsons Solicitors has achieved compensation for an employee of Powertherm Access in Goole after a workplace accident forced him to give up his job.

Unite member Kenneth Higgins, 55, from Scunthrope had to give up his profession after he suffered a slipped disc while working for Powertherm in February 2005.

Kenneth was setting up scaffolding 42 feet above the ground but wasn’t provided with the correct lifting equipment despite needing to lift a load weighing 14 kilos.

Lifting that kind of weight up 42 feet caused Kenneth to slip a disc. Despite surgery on his back he has been left in constant pain and forced to take ill health retirement after 25 years as a scaffolder. It is painful to walk and he has been told his injury will only get worse in the future.

Mr Higgins requested specialist lifting equipment, in the form of a gin wheel, on a number of occasions before the accident but was never provided with it.

Pursue a claim for compensation

Following the accident he contacted his trade union, Unite, which instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.

Thompsons argued if Powertherm had risk assessed the job adequately they would have found the need to provide adequate lifting equipment.

Powertherm Access Services did not admit liability and settled the claim out of court.

Mr Higgins said: “My injury really gets me down. I find it difficult to walk because I’m in so much pain and as I’ve been told that it will only get worse I do worry what the future will hold.

“I decided to claim compensation after realising that I would never return to work. I was a chargehand scaffolder for 25 years and it is difficult to accept that I will never be able to do that job again.”

He added: “I’d warn other scaffolders to never take on a job without the correct equipment. It’s not worth taking the risk to your health and ultimately to your quality of life. There are plenty other jobs out there and good employers will support your decision.”

Davey Hall Regional Secretary at Unite added: “This member has been left in agony by his bosses’ failure to use their common sense and provide appropriate lifting equipment for the job. Pulling a 14 kilo weight up to a scaffolding platform of 42 feet would be enough to damage the back of even the strongest man. Mr Higgins compensation reflects the loss of his career and his pain and suffering.”

Nicola Shepherdson from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Mr Higgins employer’s failed to risk assess adequately the task in hand meaning he failed to get simple and standard lifting equipment that he had himself requested several times. Their negligence led to his injury which will now affect him the rest of his life.