The GMB union has helped a member who fractured his wrist when he fell from a ladder in wet and windy weather at an oil rig construction site on Tyneside.

The welder’s mate was working on the rig in the early hours of the morning at Offshore Group Newcastle (OFN) when he fell 2.5 metres, landing on his back and wrist and hitting his head on the ground. It was extremely dark, wet and windy and the ladder was slippery.

The GMB member from Wallsend suffered three fractures to his right wrist which needed surgery to insert pins. He was off work for seven weeks and returned on light duties.

Following the accident he contacted the GMB for advice, which instructed specialist lawyers Thompsons Solicitors in Newcastle to investigate a claim for compensation.

Oil rig workers had complained the wooden ladders were unsafe

Investigations found that oil rig workers had complained the wooden ladders were unsafe in poor weather and that lighting was inadequate. But nothing had been done to make the job safer or to stop working at height in adverse weather.

Offshore Group admitted liability and settled the member’s compensation claim for £9,500.

The welder’s mate said: “The weather conditions on the day of the accident were really wild. We’d had three days of extremely strong winds and it was raining heavily. The lads had complained about the ladders being unsafe but nothing was done about it.

“I feel like the company was just waiting for someone to have an accident before they solved the problem – unfortunately it was me that ended up in hospital.”

Health and safety regulations ignored

GMB Northern Regional Secretary Tom Brennan added: “This member was working in adverse weather conditions with equipment which made the job even more dangerous. This was an entirely preventable accident which happens when basic health and safety regulations, the kind that the government claims are a burden on business, are ignored. The GMB immediately stepped in to support this member and hopes that in doing so lessons will have been learned by his employer.”

Trevor Hall from Thompsons Solicitors commented: “Health and safety regulations exist to prevent accidents when working at height. The combination of working on a wooden ladder, in the dark, in high winds and wet weather conditions should have been assessed by the employer and deemed to be unsafe. Workers should not be expected to take risks with their lives for employers who cut corners with workplace safety.