Unite legal services help Tata Steel employee get compensation25 March 2013
Suffered a frozen shoulder
A Unite the Union member who suffered a frozen shoulder after his vision was clouded by ammonia vapour and he fell has received compensation after help from Unite Legal Services.
Phillip Walters, 54, from Bridgend, a shift support technician at Tata Steel plant in Port Talbot was walking past an incinerator when it blew out a cloud of ammonia vapour temporarily affecting his sight. As he tried to sort out his eyes he tripped on a concrete plinth and his left arm went through a scaffolding ladder which had been propped up against a scaffolding pole.
He suffered a frozen shoulder which meant he was off work for four months and when he returned was on light duties for a further two months.
During his time off he needed physiotherapy and was unable to drive. He still suffers some pain in his shoulder but has been told he is likely to make a full recovery.
Mr Walters, who has worked at the site for 37 years, had warned bosses about the incinerator blowing out clouds of vapour several months earlier, but his complaints were ignored.
Thompsons Solicitors acted on his behalf
He contacted his trade union, Unite after the accident. Unite Legal Services instructed Thompsons Solicitors to act on the members behalf.
Investigations found the incinerator was faulty yet management had done nothing to fix the problem.
Tata admitted liability and settled the claim out of court for £7,000.
Mr Walters said: “I had warned my bosses about the clouds of ammonia vapour coming out of the incinerator. They made it difficult to see where you were going if you were walking in that area. It was an accident waiting to happen but I had no idea that it would be me that would end up injured.
“I had to take a lot of time of work and during that period I couldn’t drive and needed a lot of support from my family. Fortunately my shoulder is now much better and I’ve been told by doctors that it should make a full recovery. I’m just glad that the accident wasn’t more serious.”
Carl Lucas, Regional Officer from Unite the Union added: “This member’s injury could have been avoided if the walkway had been kept clear and the incinerator repaired when the defects were first reported. Management have no excuse when they ignore reported problems.
“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.”
Harriet Wheeler from Thompsons Solicitors commented: “Keeping walkways clear and hazard-free is straight forward and yet so many employers fail to take it seriously. Having an unsafe walkway and vapours that affect passers vision (which they knew about) was a recipe for disaster.”
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