A lorry driver who damaged his shoulder despite prior warnings to his employers about the dangerous way vehicles were being loaded with scrap and rubbish has received compensation.

Alan Snook, 61, from Frome, Somerset, was working as a shunter for Wincanton Logistics on the firm’s Comet contract when the accident happened in July 2009.

His job involved moving and unloading lorries full of scrap from Comet’s home delivery depots, and often the 40ft articulated lorries were full of discarded household appliances.

He had complained to bosses many times about the dangerous way the lorries were loaded. Items were often thrown in on top of one another and there had been several injuries to other employees in the past.

Injuries to chest, neck and shoulder

On the day of the accident Mr Snook opened the back of the lorry and without warning a fridge fell out hitting him. He suffered injuries to his chest, neck and shoulder, which meant he had to take four months off work.

For two months after the accident he was unable to drive. Shortly after the accident he was made redundant from Wincanton but once he was well enough he found a job as a long distance lorry driver which doesn’t involve any manual handling.

Following the accident he contacted his trade union, Unite the Union, which instructed Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation.

Thompsons argued that Wincanton should have made sure that there was a safe system in place to load the lorries to avoid this type of accident from happening.

Wincanton admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.

Simple procedures and protocols would avoid this type of accident

Mr Snook said: “I’ve lost count of the times I spoke to bosses about the way the lorries were being loaded. Everything was just thrown in together and as a result many of my colleagues suffered injury. Our complaints were seen as ‘just moans’ and ignored and we had no choice but to get on with the job in hand.

“Unfortunately because there was no system I ended up with an injury which has affected the type of work I can take on. Luckily after I was made redundant from Wincanton I found a job which doesn’t involve heavy lifting.”

Livie Reid from Unite the Union added: “Waste management firms deal with potentially dangerous situations on a daily basis but simple procedures and protocols would avoid this type of accident from happening. It seems so obvious that you need a structure to make sure that lorries were loaded safely and yet it was never put in place and workers' lives were potentially in danger when they were unloaded.

Ian Cross from Thompsons Solicitors said: “Our client had warned managers about the dangerous way these lorries were being loaded but was ignored. As a result he was in danger of being hit by falling machines, almost all of them hard heavy and sharp every time he opened one of the lorries to unload it. He had no choice but to continue working in an unsafe environment and was ultimately injured due to his employer's complete disregard for health and safety.”