A Unite member who was forced to take six months off work after her leg was crushed in a workplace accident has received £14,500 in compensation.

Nicola Upsher, 29, from Dartford in Kent, needed surgery following the accident at tissue manufacturer Kimberley Clark’s Gravesend factory in August 2007.

She was attempting to move a 250kg reel of polythene onto an electric trolley when it fell off onto her leg crushing her calf muscles.

She was forced to take six months off work and had to have surgery to repair the damage.

She said it left her barely able to walk and unable to drive. She missed out on wages including a Christmas bonus and overtime.

Her leg is now almost back to normal but Nicola says at times it can feel bruised and tender.

Pursue a claim for accident compensation

Nicola decided to contact her union following the accident and Unite instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.

Kimberley Clark admitted liability and settled the claim out of court. Since Nicola’s accident the firm has implemented a new system which makes moving the heavy reels safer.

Nicola said before her accident they were forced to move reels of this size by balancing them on the trolley because they were too small to fit into the trolley’s forks. She said now small wedges have been provided so the reels are secure.

She said: “I am the main wage earner in my house so it was particularly hard to cope without my usual income for six months. I ended up using my savings to pay the rent so I decided to claim compensation. Claiming compensation has also forced my employer to introduce new working practices to avoid something like this happening to someone else.”

Andy Frampton from Unite added: “Standard operating procedures should be designed to make sure employees are as safe as possible. In this case it was obvious that things needed to be changed to make this procedure safer for smaller reels but nothing was done about it until Nicola was injured and forced to take time off work.”

Christalla Christodoulidou said: “This was a job that employees were carrying out day in and day out and while everyone knew that smaller reels did not fit the trolley, nothing was done to correct the problem. Had steps been taken to address it, in this case providing a small wedge, then Nicola’s accident could have been avoided.”

This story was also published in the Kent News.