Suffered burns after falling onto a furnace

The 55-year-old from Rotherham was unloading a furnace, when a loose foot guard on his safety boots caused him to fall against the hot surface of the furnace, which could reach 900 degrees.

He suffered a burn on his right arm. He was unable to work for five weeks and had to visit hospital every other day for a fortnight after the accident. Two years on, he has visible scarring on the damaged area of skin.

The company had changed the type of protective footwear a few months before the accident. Work boots with integrated protective guards were replaced with guards which clipped onto the work boots – a change which workers felt was unsafe.

The injured man said: “We had only been wearing the new foot guards for a few months before my accident, and they had become known by the workers as a ‘tripping hazard’ because of their loose fit.

“I was very angry after my accident as my employers refused to accept they were at fault for not providing safe protective equipment. Since the incident, I have been given new foot guards to wear, but it’s a case of too little too late.”

The member contacted his trade union GMB for advice

The member contacted his trade union GMB for advice. His employers denied they were liable for the accident. The GMB legal experts Thompsons Solicitors issued court proceedings against the employer who then settled the compensation claim out of court.

GMB Regional Secretary, Tim Roache, said: “We will always support our members in challenging employers who shirk their health and safety responsibilities.

Imperative that the correct protective equipment is supplied

“It is imperative that the correct protective equipment is supplied and adequate instructions and training are given.”

Nick Martindale, from Thompsons Solicitors, said: “In this instance, the replacement foot guards were more of a hazard than a help.

“Employers must do more than treat health and safety as a box-ticking exercise; they need to properly evaluate the needs of their workforce and provide the most suitable safety equipment.”