A former prison officer from Sunderland has received £100,000 in compensation after an accident at work which led to the premature end of his career with the prison service.

Slipped on dangerous surface

David Hunter was responding to an alarm at HMP Durham and walking briskly down a flight of stairs to the area of the prison where the alarm had been raised. As he left the staircase he slipped and landed with force on his left side.

He later learned that the floor had been polished with wax by an inmate assigned cleaning duties who hadn’t buffed off leaving the surface of the floor dangerously wet. No warning sign had been put on display.

Operations required

David suffered multiple injuries including a scaphoid injury to his left hand, a tear to the rotator cuff in his left shoulder and bruising to his ribs. He underwent two operations to fix the damage to his hand and was off work for a year.

He returned to work on restricted duties but because he was not able to carry out the control and restraint tasks the job required of him, his career as a prison officer was cut short.

End of career as a prison officer

David said: “This accident has not only affected my career but my personal life too. I have ongoing stiffness in my shoulder which is severely aggravated by the cold weather. I have no grip in my left hand, so I can no longer ride my motorbike or go sea fishing – hobbies that I used to enjoy before my accident.

“I have had to change my job because of the accident but I’m not able to earn the same salary as a prison officer. It’s extremely frustrating as there was nothing I could I have done to prevent my accident.”

David was put in touch with Thompsons Solicitors through the POA.

Glyn Travis, from the POA, said: “This is an accident caused by clumsy housekeeping. A wet floor sign should have been visible and polish should never have been left on the floor’s surface. Our member was responding to a call, which are a routine occurrence given the nature of the work, and yet the consequences have been devastating for David.”

Michael Bray, a solicitor from Thompsons, said: “A safe workplace would have meant David was able to respond to the alarm call and get this job done without incident. Instead the poor health and safety standards at HMP Durham put an end to his career.”