A prison worker whose left wrist was fractured when it was crushed by a broken down workplace van has received compensation after help from his trade union.

The 28-year-old, an operational support worker from Leeds was off work for more than four months following the accident in February 2011 at HMP Wealstun, Wetherby.

The Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union member was trying to connect a tow rope to the van when the vehicle suddenly moved forward, crushing his hand between the van and a fork lift truck. The driver of the van had failed to put the hand brake on before calling for help.

He suffered a fractured left wrist and ligament damage. His wrist needed seven different plaster casts to help it heal and he eventually had surgery to pin the bone.

He was off work for more than four months and still suffers from aches and pains in cold weather.

Instructed Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation

The PCS member, who has changed jobs since the accident, contacted PCS for advice. The union instructed Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation.

Thompsons argued that HMP should have trained its drivers to make sure their vehicles were secured safely in the event of a breakdown.

HM Prison Service admitted liability and agreed to pay compensation without going to court.

The member said: “When I was told I had fractured my wrist I assumed that I’d be back to work within a few weeks. The break failed to heal and my recovery seemed to go on forever. It felt like I was never going to get back to work.

“It’s frustrating to know that all those months of pain and inconvenience were caused by something which could easily have been avoided.”

Accidents in the workplace are often avoidable

Carl Banks, PCS health and safety officer added: “Accidents in the workplace are often avoidable with a little common sense and vigilance by employers.

“In this case HMP should have briefed all its staff in how to correctly secure their vehicles when they were stationary. By failing to apply the hand brake our member was left with a painful injury which needed surgery and a great deal of time off work to recover.”

Keely Goldup from Thompsons Solicitors added: “There was every chance that not putting the hand brake on would result in the van moving and someone being hurt. If the prison service had done more to ensure its employees always checked the hand brake was on before leaving a vehicle this client’s injuries could have been avoided altogether – saving him months of pain and the taxpayer money.”