A Royal Opera House employee who hurt his back while preparing the stage for a performance has received a substantial sum in compensation.

Charles Spencer, 66, from South London has been left with severe long term back pain following the accident at the famous venue.

Stage lighting technician Charles, who is now retired, damaged his lower back when helping a colleague to move a trolley carrying 12 rolls of linoleum from the stage.

The lino is normally used to line the stage for ballet but is removed for other performances. On this occasion Charles was helping to prepare the stage following a performance of Das Rheingold.

Damaged back whilst pushing trolley

The trolley was left in the wrong place and when Charles helped a colleague to push it he damaged his back. It usually takes two men to lift just one roll of lino.

Following the accident Charles decided to contact his union, BECTU which instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for accident compensation.

The Royal Opera House settled the claim out of court.

Charles said: “I am relieved that this claim has been settled because the compensation has helped me to buy equipment to help me cope with my back injury. I still suffer a lot of pain from my back.

“Whilst I was responsible for stage lighting I pitched in to help a colleague push the trolley. Everyone helps each other when preparing the stage and I didn’t think twice about it. If we had carried out a risk assessment before pushing the trolley perhaps I wouldn’t be injured today.”

Health and Safety Strategy

Willy Donaghy, supervisory official for BECTU’s arts and entertainment division added: “Back injuries can be painful and debilitating. Employers must ensure staff are trained in lifting techniques or work out ways to avoid situations like the one faced by Charles. A well thought out plan and risk assessment should have been in place to make sure the trolley was moved safely.”

Anita Rattan from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Employers should have a written policy as part of an overall health and safety strategy which addresses the risks their workers face. Mr Spencer’s long term health and enjoyment of his retirement has been affected by an injury which could easily have been avoided.”