An Alcan Aluminium employee who needed knee surgery after slipping on a chemical that had leaked onto a workshop floor has secured compensation with the help of his trade union GMB Northern.

The union member from Newbiggin by the Sea was repairing a large crucible pot used at a factory which made aluminium products at the site in Lynemouth, Northumberland.

He had been using a fork lift truck when he stepped on residue created during the manufacturing process which shattered under his weight causing him to lose his footing and twist his knee awkwardly. The accident caused the cartilage in his knee to tear.

The GMB member sought medical advice. He underwent surgery and an intensive course of physiotherapy to correct the damage but was unable to work for six weeks.

GMS recommended contacting Thompsons Solicitors

After contacting the GMB for advice, he instructed Thompsons Solicitors to take up the case. When his employers denied liability for the accident Thompsons issued court proceedings which led to a substantial out of court settlement for their client.

The GMB member said: “Two years on and I’m still suffering; my knee has been permanently weakened by the accident and it’s had a real impact on me.

“I used to play a lot of football and enjoy running, neither of which I am able to do now, which is frustrating as it could have all been avoided if the workshop floor had been kept clear in the first place.”

GMB Northern Regional Organiser Valerie Scott said: “Cutting corners is not an option where the safety of workers is concerned. We stepped in to support our member in his case and hope that by recognising where its health and safety procedures had not been adequate the employer will also benefit as a result.

“Our message to employers? Implement proper safety measures and keep them in place.”

Classic example of an easily preventable accident

Nicola Waugh at Thompsons Solicitors said: “The residue that caused the accident should never have been left to accumulate on the workshop floor.

“This case is a classic example of an easily preventable accident waiting to happen due to an employer’s failure to have an adequate system in place.”