A car manufacturer employee who was forced to give up his trade has received a six figure sum in compensation after help from his union.

Unite member David Turpin, 35, from Gateshead was forced to give up his job as a Die Maintenance Technician for Nissan in Sunderland after he suffered a nasty fall.

He was leaving the plant in December 2005 when he slipped on black ice landing on his right hand. He suffered a severe fracture of his right index finger.

Mr Turpin hadn’t noticed the ice because the area designated for leaving the plant was badly lit.

Accident left injured worker with disability

His finger has now healed but he has been left with no dexterity, loss of strength and it is disfigured. His job at Nissan involved fine dexterity and heavy lifting to complete precision engineering tasks.

As a result of this disability, Mr Turpin, who worked at Nissan for more than 14 years, has been forced to find an alternative role, firstly as an admin worker, then as a tenancy support worker for Gateshead Council.

Mr. Turpin said “The difference in attitude towards health and safety at Gateshead Council is unbelievable. They are very open to suggestions from employees and bend over backwards to make work a safe place to be. If Nissan had had the same attitude, maybe things would have been different.”

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

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

Thompsons argued that Nissan should have ensured its exits were well lit and were free from ice.

Nissan admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.

Accident forced injured worker to give up job

Mr Turpin said: “The break has healed but I can no longer bend my finger. If I had been in any other trade it may not have been a problem but my old job involved very fine and detailed work which needs nimble fingers. It also involved heavy lifting which I can no longer do, due to lack of strength in my right hand.

“The accident has forced me to give up well paid work after completing a four and a half year-long apprenticeship and many years of dedicated experience in the job. I was fortunate to be able to get a job with the local council, but this is lower paid than what I was used to.

“It has been difficult accepting that my earning capacity has taken a knock, especially with a young family, so this compensation will be a great help.”

Regional Secretary of Unite, Davey Hall said: “A simple slip has had a massive long term financial impact on our member. When it is cold and dark winter months employers need to take basic additional safety steps to make sure employees are kept safe.”

Keith Patten from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Mr Turpin could still be working in his specialist trade today had Nissan taken the care to ensure the exit was well lit and the path was safe. Mr Turpin’s earning capacity was devastated by this avoidable accident.”