A GMB member who was injured in the workplace twice in a fortnight has received £8,000 in compensation after help from his union’s lawyers.

The 42-year-old from Brownhills in Walsall had received no manual handling training in his job as a trainee furnace man for Castings Plc, also based in Brownhills.

His job involved carrying 40 heavy bags of graphite per shift, seven days a week. The bags were in sacks and did not have any handles. He wasn’t given any lifting aids nor help from colleagues.

The bags needed to be carried several metres and then lifted up at shoulder height to be offloaded.

Suffered a strain to his lower back

In August 2009 he was on his 13th day of working without a break and as he lifted up a bag of graphite he suffered a strain to his lower back.

His injury happened just as he was due to take a four day break. During that time he was advised by his doctor to wear a back support.

When he returned to work a few days later he was put back into the same job. But 15 days after his original accident he was instructed to use a type of jack hammer above head height. The heavy tool caused him to suffer a strain injury to his upper back.

His injuries meant the member was forced to take three months off work. He was on a rolling 12 week contract with Casting Plc and he was soon told they would not be renewing his contract.

Since his recovery he has been able to find alternative work as a machine operator for another company.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

Following the accidents he contacted the GMB for advice and the trade union instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.

Thompsons argued that the member should have received manual handling training before he was instructed to undertake any type of lifting. It also argued that if the member had been taught how to use the power tool correctly the second accident could have been avoided.

Castings Plc admitted liability and settled both claims out of court. The member received £3,000 for the first injury and £5,000 for the second injury.

He said: “I was on a rolling 12 week contract and felt obliged to undertake all the tasks which were asked of me. I was never provided with any formal training but I trusted that if I wasn’t doing things correctly they would have told me.

“The first injury to my lower back caused me pain but with the back support and painkillers I was able to return to light duties. After the second accident there was no way I could have returned to work. Unfortunately I lost the job and then had to find a new job after I recovered.”

Keith Hodgkinson, Senior Organiser from the GMB said: “This member was in a very physical job, working seven days a week without any time off meaning his body was under considerable strain. Additionally he hadn’t been provided with any training to help him lift in the correct way, nor given any lifting equipment to help him. The first injury was just waiting to happen but what beggars belief is lessons were not learnt and he was still not provided with any training and they allowed him to work in a way that inevitably led to a second accident.”

James Carter from Thompsons Solicitors added: “The Manual Handling Operations Regulations are specifically aimed at avoiding injury from heavy lifting. Castings Plc failed to regard these regulations on two occasions meaning this employee was left with two very painful injuries and out of work.”