A scaffolder who needed surgery after a 300 kilo weight fell on his leg has received £30,000 in compensation after help from his trade union.

Michael Simpson, 63, from Ipswich was trapped under the heavy metal block when it fell onto his ankle in December 2005 while he was working at Felixstowe Docks.

Three men were needed to lift the block which broke his leg at the ankle.

Mr Simpson needed surgery and a metal plate was inserted to help his leg heal. He was forced to take more than nine months off work and had to undergo intensive physiotherapy to enable him to walk again.

He has been able to return to his job as a scaffolder for T H Moss and Sons but is on light duties and has been told he will suffer from permanent stiffness in his ankle.

He can no longer play games with his grandchildren as he used to and can no longer swim or drive long distances.

Pursue a claim for compensation

Following the accident he contacted his trade union, Unite, which instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.

Thompsons argued the crane operator should have been more aware of the health and safety procedures.

Investigations found neither the site owner, Hutchinson Ports, nor the crane operator’s employers Trimley Welding Services were fully aware of who was responsible for certain aspects of site safety.

Thompsons was able to secure a settlement from both defendants out of court.

Mr Simpson said: “I have worked as a scaffolder since the 1960s and have never been in a workplace accident like this before. When the block fell on my ankle it was horrific. It took three men to lift if off me and then I needed surgery followed by months off work. My injuries mean that I’ve had to stop a lot of the activities I used to enjoy with my grandchildren and I’ve now been put on light duties with my employer. I am fortunate that I have been able to continue working as scaffolder at all.”

Jane Jeffery, Regional Officer at Unite added: “This accident could have been avoided if clear operating instructions had been made available to the crane operator who caused the accident. Without those instructions an experienced scaffolder has been forced to remain on light duties and to deal with the agony caused by his injuries.”

Kam Singh from Thompsons Solicitors said: “This was a difficult case to settle as both companies blamed one another for the accident. It became clear that health and safety procedures were compromised because both defendants were not fully aware of who was responsible for which aspects of site safety. Where several companies are working together on a project there must be clear lines of communication to make sure accidents like this can be avoided.”

Mr Simpson was happy with the service he received from Thompsons and his thank you letter read "We would just like to say we appreciate all the hard work you put into my case. Many thanks".