Unite the Union has supported a member in his claim for compensation after he so badly fractured his wrist in a fall at the Wigan Heinz factory that he was unable to return to work.

Ian Jones, 66, from Wigan, needed surgery to his left wrist after tripping on a bolt which was protruding from the floor in the factory’s manufacturing department. The fracture failed to heal after six weeks in plaster, so the maintenance electrician had a bone graft from his pelvis to fuse the wrist.

He wasn’t fit enough to return to work before his planned retirement in December 2010 – eight months after the accident. His wrist continues to cause him discomfort, with reduced grip in his hand.

Following the accident he contacted his trade union Unite the Union for advice and Unite Legal Service instructed Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation.

Heinz admitted liability and settled the claim out of court for £16,500.

Failing to meet basic workplace health and safety standards

Mr Jones said: “I didn’t see the bolt protruding from the floor and just went flying. I was in a great deal of pain for many weeks and was unable to return to work before my retirement. It was a bad end to what had, up until then, been an enjoyable career.”

Mick Whitley from Unite the Union added: “The protruding bolt was a foreseeable hazard and should have been identified. A household name such as Heinz should have understood better the consequences of failing to meet basic workplace health and safety standards - a very painful injury for our member and a significant compensation payout. It would have been simpler and cheaper for Heinz to take preventative action to avoid this accident.

“This is a success for Unite Legal Services and all our members should take some comfort from knowing that our legal services are at hand to act for members and their families.”

Suzanne Humphries from Thompsons Solicitors said: “At a time when the government is attacking health and safety culture and seeking to water down regulations which make employers automatically liable for breaches, this case demonstrates how serious injuries can result from a failure to keep walkways free from hazards. Far from health and safety being a burden on business, it is far more expensive for an employer to have workers injured by preventable accidents caused by a failure to take health and safety responsibilities seriously.”