A GMB shop steward who has fought for years for safer practices and member rights in the workplace has been compensated after an accident at work.

John Kitching, 48, from Kingstone in Barnsley had to give up playing football in Sheffield’s over 35’s league after he jarred his shoulder as he disposed of clinical waste while working as an operating theatre orderly at Barnsley Hospital.

The hospital had been warned many times in the last five years that the clinical waste bins were a health and safety hazard. Despite these warnings nothing was done to make them safe.

Now John has received £4,000 in compensation following his accident with the bins.

The bins do not have brakes and as a result move when waste is deposited. They are kept in a narrow corridor and when they move the lids can slam shut with no warning.

Damaged his shoulder

John damaged his shoulder after the bin lid started to fall down and he put out his arm to stop it striking him. He was forced to take seven weeks off work and undergo physiotherapy on his shoulder.

He still suffers pain and can no longer lift heavy objects above a certain height. He has had to give up playing football in the Wragg over 35’s league, where he played in the positions right back and goalkeeper.

He contacted the GMB following the incident which instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue accident compensation.

Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.

John said: “The Barnsley health service branch of the GMB had warned the hospital about the clinical waste bins but no action was ever taken. I decided to pursue compensation because I wanted the hospital to finally resolve this health and safety hazard otherwise more people would be injured in the future.”

Employers must provide a safe working environment

Tim Roache from the GMB added: “This accident could have been avoided quite simply by the employer listening to the GMB’s concerns and carrying out a suitable risk assessment to identify what was an obvious hazard and then putting safe procedures in place. It is disappointing that Mr Kitching had to take legal action to make them listen.”

Stephen Woolford from Thompsons Solicitors said: “This case shows the important role trade unions have in ensuring employers provide a safe working environment. If Barnsley Hospital had listened to the concerns and acted upon them then Mr Kitching could have continued to enjoy playing football for another two seasons.”

“All that was needed to make these bins safe was some sort of restraining device to keep them in place while they were being used.”