A Norfolk and Suffolk Probation Trust worker who was badly injured when she fell at work and seven metal wheelbarrows came down on top of her has received £45,000 in compensation.

The 45-year-old from Norfolk was left suffering from severe long term back and hip pain after she tripped on a builders’ line and fell.

The trained painter and decorator has had to change jobs and take a pay cut because her mobility is restricted and she can no longer stand for long periods.

She was working as a Community PayBack Supervisor for Norfolk Probation Service on a scheme supervising offenders working in the community, when her foot became tangled as she returned tools to the store. She fell, landing on her bottom which caused the stack of wheelbarrows to fall onto her neck and shoulder causing a trapped nerve.

Pain and Discomfort grew worse after accident

At first she suffered pain and discomfort which she thought would go away but instead it steadily grew worse. She received intensive physiotherapy, acupuncture, denervation treatment to her spine and injections for the pain but still must take painkillers on a daily basis.

The woman, who has a young daughter and was a keen footballer, can no longer play the sport or go cycling with her daughter.

She has been moved to a less physical role within the Probation Service on less money.

Medical experts found that the accident had brought forward degenerative changes to her back and neck by 10 years.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

Following the accident her trade union, UNISON, instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation.

Thompsons argued that the tool shed should have been kept tidy and free from hazards, something which the member had complained about previously, both verbally and in writing.

Norfolk and Suffolk Probation Trust admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.

She said: “After the accident I thought I had just suffered a strain and things would get better but instead things became more and more painful. I’m not half as mobile as I used to be. I was always an active person but I can’t play sport any more and I’ve had to stop doing a job I loved, which has left me out of pocket. It is frustrating and upsetting that I just can’t do things I used to be able to do all because of an accident that could have been prevented.”

Employers have a duty to keep workplaces free from hazards

Glyn Hawker from UNISON said: “What may seem like a simple accident to an outsider has had a real impact not just on our member’s life and health, but on her bank balance. Employers have a duty to keep workplaces free from hazards and very simple measures could have been taken by the Probation Service to keep the tool store tidy. Employers have to take steps to make sure that potential hazards are removed or stored more safely.”

Samantha Vallis from Thompsons Solicitors said: “Our client loved her job and was physically active before this accident. That the Probation Service didn’t act after she had complained that the tool store was not kept tidy is particularly shocking and is the ultimate cause of her career as a Community Pay Back Supervisor coming to an end. We hear a lot these days about health and safety being a burden on business. But this employer’s disregard for health and safety has meant that the real burden is on its injured employee.”