A nuclear plant worker who raised health and safety concerns to bosses about a manual handling exercise and then went on to break her ankle as she moved heavy boxes has received compensation after help from her trade union.

The GMB member from Cumbria, broke her right ankle after she was ordered to move heavy archive boxes down a flight of three narrow steps at Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Seascale in February 2010.

She fell from the top step and was forced to take three months off work as a result.

Concerns from staff were ignored by bosses

Her colleagues had warned bosses that the manual handling task was unsafe. Among their concerns were the fact the steps were old and narrow and that there was no handrail. Their suggestions were ignored and they were told to get on with the job.

Just a few moments later the GMB member found herself in accident and emergency.

She was forced to rely on help from her daughter as she recovered and she still suffers from pain in the ankle at times.

She has to be much more cautious when walking and in what shoes she wears.

Following the accident her trade union, the GMB, advised her to pursue compensation.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

The process worker said her colleagues' concerns were ignored despite their considerable knowledge of the plant.

She said: “This was an accident waiting to happen. After my accident I felt that it was important for me to claim so that managers take on board employee’s concerns in the future.”

The GMB instructed Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation. Thompsons argued that the steps were dangerous and that the employees’ concerns should have been included in a risk assessment of the job.

Accident could have been avoided

Sellafield settled the claim out of court for £7,500.

Steve Gibbons, Regional Organiser at the GMB said: “In the end this member was left with a painful injury which could have been avoided had her colleagues' concerns been listened to and acted upon.”

Lyndsay Milligan from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Sellafield clearly failed to risk assess this manual handling job correctly and as a result this woman was badly injured. Her and her colleagues' experience and knowledge of the building should have been taken seriously to avoid this accident happening.”