A mechanical fitter who needed surgery on his shoulder following a workplace accident has received more than £5,000 in compensation.

Geoffrey Burns, 59, from Whitehaven had to take six months off work following the accident in August 2008 while working for Sellafield.

The Unite member was using a manual pipecutter to cut four inch diameter stainless steel pipe for size reduction when he suffered traumatic tendonitis. The tool was unsuitable for the job.

Shoulder injury required surgery

The condition left his shoulder in extreme pain which needed surgery to correct.

He said: “I tried to struggle on with my injuries at first but my shoulder only got worse and I had to stop working. The quickest way for me to get my injury resolved was through surgery. This compensation will help me to pay for the cost of the private consultations I had.”

Following his accident he contacted Unite which instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.

Thompsons argued that Sellafield should have provided a more modern electric pipecutter to avoid the use of excessive force which was needed to handle the manual tool.

Sellafield admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.

Mr Burns has been able to return to work and is fully fit.

Accident could have been avoided

Paul Finegan Unite Regional Secretary said: “Mr Burns’ accident could have been avoided had Sellafield taken more time to consider the risks associated with the job. The pipecutter should have been taken out of service and alternatives looked into to complete the job.”

Hazel Webb from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Sellafield failed to risk assess Mr Burns’ job adequately. A proper assessment would have highlighted the need for an electrically operated pipecutter.

“Businesses are expected to keep themselves up to date on ways that manual handling roles can be made as safe as possible.”