A waste water worker from Cornwall has been award £9,500 in compensation from his employer, South West Water, after a tanker reversed into him, causing injuries to his neck and lower back.

The accident happened at a sewage pumping station in Fowey, Cornwall, where South West Water was working alongside drainage company, Clearflow.

At the time of the accident, the Unite member had been working on a sewage pump while his colleagues were cleaning out a well next to the pump. A Clearflow employee reversed a tanker through the safety barrier, striking the man and throwing him forward onto the lid of the nearby well.

The man would have fallen into the well, which was 12 metres deep, if he had not managed to grab hold of the chains around its side. There was no barrier between the man and the well, nor were there any cameras fitted to the tanker, so the driver was unable to see the rear view.

The force of the tanker hitting him caused a jarring injury to his neck and lower back. As a result, he was off work for three months and spent a further 13 months on light duties.

After his accident, he contacted Unite Legal Services who instructed personal injury specialists, Thompsons Solicitors, to pursue a claim for compensation on his behalf.

The worker said: “I still have pain caused by my injuries to this day. I used to love golf but I haven’t been able to play for two years now because of my accident.

“I’m very grateful for the legal support I had from Unite Legal Services and Thompsons, they made sure I was compensated for the ongoing pain and disruption that my injuries caused me.”

An investigation carried out by Thompsons Solicitors and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the accident had been caused by workers and moving vehicles, which had not been properly separated while there was ongoing work, and by the inexperience of the driver who had put the vehicle into the wrong gear.

The case was settled with split liability – two thirds of the damages were paid by South West Water, one third by Clearflow.

Heathcliff Pettifer, Unite regional officer, said: “Our member is extremely lucky that he was able to avoid falling down the well – the consequences of this accident could have been significantly worse. This case is a clear example that accidents with vehicles can happen anywhere, not just on the road.

“As a result of our member’s accident, cameras have now been fitted to the rear of the tankers and bollards have been placed in front of the well to separate workers and vehicles - all preventative measures to stop an accident like this from happening again. It’s just a shame an incident of this nature had to happen before something was done to protect South West Water employees.”