A refuse collector who was provided with a pair of ill-fitted boots by his employer has been awarded damages of £3,000 after developing Plantar Fasciitis, a painful inflammatory condition of the heel of the foot. Mr David Evans, 42, of Oldbury, brought the case with the help of his union, GMB, and Thompsons Solicitors, after Sandwell Metropolitan District Council appeared to ignore his request for proper fitting boots in order to do his job.

For Health & Safety reasons, refuse collectors are required to wear boots which help them to protect their feet. Although Mr Evans was provided with a new pair of boots, he quickly realised that they did not fit him properly and after two days and around 30 miles of walking he returned the boots and requested replacements. None were available and for the next four months Mr Evans worked in a pair of training shoes until a new pair of boots was eventually provided.

Commenting, Mr Evans said: "The new boots didn’t fit. I wore them because there was no alternative available and it was in my interests and the Council's for me to wear protective footwear. However it became too much of a problem, I was in a lot of pain and returned the boots. Despite asking for a new pair that would actually fit, no-one seemed that bothered. So I decided to take action."

Through his union, Mr Evans instructed Thompsons Solicitors to look into his case, believing his employer to be at fault by providing him with ill-fitted booths and subsequently ignoring his request for replacements. Thompsons initially obtained medical evidence from a GP who confirmed that the ill-fitting boots had caused Plantar Fasciitis. The Council would not accept this evidence and denied liability, so a further report was obtained from a Consultant Podiatrist which confirmed again that the boots were the cause.

Although the Council would still not admit liability, it agreed to settle for damages of £3,000.

Health and Safety at Work

Darren James, Branch Secretary of the GMB, said: "We are pleased with the outcome of this case, not only for our GMB member Mr Evans, but because it sends a message to employers that they cannot pussyfoot around with Health & Safety issues. On the one hand Health & Safety policy dictates that employees should be provided with effective protective clothing to do their jobs yet on the other hand they do not provide the clothing necessary to do the job."

Commenting on Mr Evans' case, his personal injury lawyer Marc Ruff at Thompsons Solicitors, said: "This case highlights the need for employers to take the protective clothing of their employees seriously. Mr Evans should not have been forced to wear ill-fitted boots, which resulted in injury, nor should he have expected to wait four months before a replacement pair was made available."