Tripped at Work
PCS union member Andrea Swales, 39, from Hartlepool was almost five months pregnant with her little girl, Tegan, when the accident happened at HM Revenue and Customs offices in Peterlee in July 2006.
Andrea tripped on a loose carpet tile in the office. Fortunately she fell onto a seat so that her baby was protected, but she twisted her back.
At first the tax credit advisor put the back pain down to her pregnancy. It wasn’t until she gave birth to Tegan that she realised how badly injured she was.
Physiotherapy needed after accident at work
At her six week post pregnancy check-up she told her doctor about her bad back and was told she needed physiotherapy. She has since received steroid injections to help with pain relief. It was later found that the fall had brought forward back problems for Andrea by nine years.
Andrea struggled to cope with her injury and had to rely on her 13-year-old son, Cameron, to help with the new baby.
Her back was so painful she found it difficult to bathe Tegan or to do simple tasks like lift the car seat.
She said: “All the pleasure was taken out of the first few months after Tegan’s birth. Everything was a real struggle. Some days I was in so much pain I couldn’t leave the house. I don’t know what I would have done if my son hadn’t been old enough to help me out.
“When I fell my first instinct was to protect my bump. I hate to imagine what might have happened if I hadn’t managed to break my fall.”
Andrea has now returned to work, but still suffers from some pain.
Slips and trips are a common cause of injury in all workplaces
She decided to pursue compensation after reading about a similar case in her union newsletter. The PCS instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors. HM Customs and Revenue admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.
Emma Wiles, Director of Legal Services at the PCS said: “Slips and trips are a common cause of injury in all workplaces. Employers are expected to have a simple inspection programme to make sure thoroughfares are safe.”
Janice Hook from Thompsons Solicitors added: “We are pleased we have been able to settle this claim on behalf of Ms Swales. This fall happened at a time when Ms Swales was particularly vulnerable. She and her unborn child were fortunate that she managed to break her fall. We hope her employer has learnt from this incident and has put procedures in place to avoid this kind of accident happening again.”
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