A trade union is reminding business owners to keep their premises safe after a driver was forced to give up his job after he slipped on an unsecured mat and broke his ankle whilst collecting a settee from a pub.

The Unite member from Taunton has needed four operations on his ankle since the accident, which happened as he collected the bed settee which was being returned to Argos by the White Lodge public house in Somerset in 2006.

He has been told it will take his ankle another year to heal and he will never be able to return to his 25-year career as a driver.

Slipped and fell whilst delivering goods

The granddad of one was working for DHL Excel Supply Chain delivering goods for Argos. As he and a colleague carried the settee out of the pub he slipped on the door mat, fell and broke his ankle on the joint. It had to be pinned but it failed to heal so he has been in and out of hospital for surgery and physiotherapy ever since.

Two years after the accident DHL decided to let him go. He hopes he will eventually be able to return to some type of work if he can find an alternative career.

He said: “I enjoyed my job and had been at DHL for seven years. When I was younger I worked as a driver for a cider company for 18 years. I’ve been told that my ankle will never be up to doing that type of job again so I will have to retrain to find work.

“I would never have believed that it would take more than five years for my ankle to heal. At the time I thought I would be in plaster for a few weeks and then back to work, but the break was particularly nasty and my ankle has needed a lot of work. As well as losing my job, it’s meant I’ve put on three stone in weight and I can’t take my five month old granddaughter out for walks in her pram. I will never be able to regain those moments with her.”

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

Following the accident he contacted his trade union Unite, which instructed Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.

Thompsons argued that the floor mat should have been made from non-slip material or that it should have been embedded into the floor to avoid it from slipping.

Whitbread Group, which owns the pub, admitted liability and settled the claim out of court for £165,000.

Livie Reid Regional Coordinator Officer at Unite said: “Business owners need to be aware of their health and safety responsibilities not just to their own employees but also to others visiting the premises, including delivery drivers.

“As a result of this accident our member has been left in agony for the last five years and out of work. A simple risk assessment would have avoided this from happening.

Richard Cartwright from Thompsons Solicitors added: “This member suffered a particularly nasty break caused by the thoughtlessness of the pub owners. The dangers this mat could cause should have been spotted and as a result it should have been removed or replaced with a more appropriate one.“