A former infant school worker who was forced to give up the job she loved after badly damaging her knees when she slipped and fell on spilled liquid has received more than £20,000 in compensation.

The 60 year old Senior Early Learning Years Practitioner had worked for over 20 years at a nursery school in Stoke on Trent where she was part of a team taking care of children aged 3-7 years.

She slipped on the liquid in the school hall which caused her to crash into nearby steps with her left knee and fall at an awkward angle onto her right leg, injuring both knees. The school had failed to implement a system to keep floors free from slipping hazards.

The infant worker already had degenerative symptoms in her knees and the incident in November 2009 made these far worse. She had to undergo five operations, including two complex knee replacements.

The UNISON member from Stoke on Trent struggled to continue working for five months after the fall, until she was forced to retire on the grounds of ill health due to the constant pain in her knees.

Instructed Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation

She contacted UNISON which instructed Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation to recover loss of earnings.

The member, who joined the union when she started working at the nursery, said: “The whole experience has been extremely upsetting. I struggled to carry on working for a few months but my knees were so bad I physically couldn’t do the job any longer.

“The physical pain from the fall and subsequent operations were very distressing, but I was also very disappointed with the lack of support I received from the school management team which I felt did not take my injuries seriously when I had to stop working, even though the council admitted the school was to blame.

“Because of a completely avoidable accident I’ve had to give up working in a job I absolutely loved. Thankfully being a union member gave me the support I needed to secure compensation which will provide a bit of financial security to cover the fact that I can no longer work as a result.”

Employers need to take responsibility for workplace accidents

Ravi Subramanian from UNISON commented: “This is another example of how union membership empowers injured people to tackle employers who need to take responsibility for workplace accidents. I’m glad that we were able to provide our member with the support she needed and enable her to secure a significant level of compensation.”

Donna Simcock from Thompsons Solicitors in Stoke on Trent said: “This case demonstrates the importance of keeping floors free from substances so that employees are not put at unnecessary risk at work. A simple slip can cause a serious level of injury and sadly in this case, the member was eventually forced to retire due to the acceleration of her symptoms.

“Employers have a duty to make sure that spillages are monitored and that all staff are trained to an adequate level so that when spills occur they alert others of the dangers.”