UNISON, the UK's leading public sector trade union, has won £7,000 compensation for a member whose hand got stuck when she was moving cages full of linen out of a hospital lift.

Rita Stone, a laundry manager from Milton Keynes, got her hand stuck between the laundry cage and the lift door, when the wheels of the cage locked, as she was getting out of the lift. She had previously reported the faulty cages to the hospitals laundry contractor, who had failed to take action to replace them. The injuries that Mrs Stone sustained meant she had to undergo a series of painful operations after she developed a cyst on her wrist, leaving her with a scar. Her employers, the Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust, admitted liability and settled the claim out of court. Rita has since retired, after working in the Trust for more than twenty years.

Employers did not replace faulty laundry cages

Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said:

"Rita's employers, the hospital laundry contractors, were trying to save cash by avoiding replacing the laundry cages. She had previously warned them that the trolleys needed replacing, but they failed to take action. Employers have a duty of care to their staff and this includes making sure the tools they need to use to do their jobs are safe. Rita was right to take action against her employers, and UNISON was right there behind her."

If staff raise concerns then they should be taken seriously

Rita Stone, said:

"I was petrified when the lift door closed on my hand, and I knew because of the pain I felt, that I had done some serious damage. I am in pain to this day, and I still need to have another operation on my wrist.

"I would like to send a message to the hospital trust, that they should be more aware of health and safety. If staff raise concerns then they should be taken seriously, and improvements should be made to equipment and working practises when necessary. When I told the contractors about the faulty laundry cages they did not listen, and I paid the price with a long standing injury."

Anita Rattan from Thompsons Solicitors said:

"This accident shows how even simple operations like wheeling a trolley into a lift have the potential to cause harm if the equipment being moved in and out is not kept in good working condition. Mrs Stone was very worried about being trapped."