Tea giant Tetley has paid compensation to one of its former employees after she suffered a serious shoulder injury at its factory in Stockton on Tees.

Tetley GB paid a substantial sum in compensation to Linda Gray, 44, from Stockton on Tees after she damaged her shoulder lifting a 25kg reel at the factory in Eaglescliffe.

The grandmother of three needed two operations on her shoulder and was unable to return to work. She eventually lost her job after working 12 years as a production operator.

The accident happened in September 2007 as she lifted the reel up to head height onto a teabag making machine.

No risk assessment had been carried out

No risk assessment had been carried out by Tetley, which would have identified the need to automate the task. Newer machines had already been altered to avoid the need to lift the heavy part.

Mrs Gray was left in severe pain and needed to take strong painkillers on a daily basis. Her injury also meant that she couldn’t lift her nine-month-old grandson and struggled with household chores.

The second operation on her shoulder has been successful and she is now virtually pain-free but she has found it difficult in the current economic climate to find another job. She has retrained as a carer and hopes to find work soon.

Following the accident she contacted her trade union, the GMB, which instructed Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.

Tetley admitted liability and settled the claim out of court

Thompsons argued that Tetley should have risk assessed the manual handling task which would have highlighted the need to make it safer.

Tetley admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.

Mrs Gray said: “I worked for 12 years at Tetley and couldn’t believe it when I lost my job after being off sick due to an accident which wasn’t my fault. I’ve been in agony for the last four years and it is only now that my shoulder is healing that I’m finally able to pull my life back together.

“I just hope that I’ll be able to find a new job soon.”

Stephen Thompkins, organiser at the GMB added: “Tetley is a massive international employer and the Eaglescliffe site is the largest tea factory in the UK. The firm should have known better than to allow a member of staff to lift such a heavy object without a risk assessment. Our member has suffered an agonising injury which cost her her job. It is only right that Tetley should pay compensation for this accident.”

Diane Davison from Thompsons Solicitors said: “A simple risk assessment would have highlighted the obvious danger in lifting a 25 kilo reel above head height. In fact Tetley had already identified the risk in other machines which makes this accident incomprehensible. This is another example of an employer failing to take its health and safety responsibilities seriously.”