A nuclear power worker who suffered a knee injury caused by a piece of faulty equipment at work has received compensation with help from his trade union.

Unite the union member Peter Straughton, 39, from Workington, needed surgery on his knee after he was injured by a broken turnstile.

Management at the Sellafield Nuclear Reprocessing Facility in Seascale had known the turnstile was broken but had done nothing to repair it.

Mr Straughton, a manufacturing team leader, had to use the security turnstile to make his way from changing rooms to the main work area.

A magnet in the turnstile, which should have stopped it rotating further than 90 degrees, was broken. The turnstile kept rotating and caught his leg causing him to fall to his knees.

Surgery needed as a result of accident

He was taken to hospital where it was confirmed that he had suffered soft tissue injury to his right knee, severe bruising to his left knee and soft tissue injuries to his right elbow. He needed right knee surgery two months later.

Mr Staughton had to take a total of four weeks off work and was on light duties for six weeks when he returned to work recovering from the knee surgery.

Following the accident Unite instructed specialist lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim. Thompsons gathered evidence that proved Sellafield Ltd should have repaired the frequently used turnstile as soon as a problem had been identified and their failure to do so created an accident waiting to happen.

Sellafield admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.

Mr Straughton said: “This was just a normal working day. I hadn’t been forewarned about the problems with the turnstile so it was a complete shock when I found myself thrown to the ground.

“I decided to claim compensation because not only was I badly injured but I discovered that the problem with the turnstile was known before I was injured yet nothing had been done about it. My accident was totally avoidable.”

Health and safety should be top of the agenda

Paul Finegan, Unite Regional Secretary added: “Sellafield’s Seascale site plays an important role in the decommissioning of the UK’s nuclear waste. With the obvious risks which come with the job at the plant health and safety should be top of management’s agenda.

“It isn’t good enough to manage just nuclear health and safety risks and overlook basic maintenance which, as here, has the potential to injure employees.”

Lyndsay Milligan from Thompsons Solicitors added: “No attempt was made by Sellafield’s management to replace the faulty magnet in the turnstile even though the risk had been reported. It is ironic that at a nuclear decommissioning plant a worker was injured by such a basic piece of equipment due to a fundamental failure of health and safety procedure.”