A refuse collector who was run over by his colleague and had to have his leg amputated has received £400,000 after help from his trade union, UNISON.

Kenneth Armstrong, 50, from Barry in South Glamorgan now needs to use a prosthetic limb following the accident in October 2009.

The experienced binman for Vale of Glamorgan County Borough Council was getting down from the refuse collection lorry on Windsor Place, when he was caught by the vehicle’s front wheel and fell to the ground. The driver didn’t notice he had fallen and drove on and over his foot, stopping the heavy vehicle on top of it.

It was moments before the driver realised what had happened and reversed the lorry back off him.

Foot was badly crushed

Mr Armstrong was rushed to hospital where he underwent emergency surgery to try and save his right foot. It was so badly crushed that a week later he needed to have the leg amputated below the knee to reduce the risk of infection.

The UNISON member who now uses a prosthetic limb was able to return to work for the council within 10 months. He has been unable to return to collecting bins and is now a street care assistant – which is a lower paid job.

Thompsons Solicitors, instructed to take the case for UNISON, investigated the case and found that the driver had failed to check Mr Armstrong was safely clear of the vehicle before moving on.

In 26 years as a binman Mr Armstrong had never been trained on the safest way to leave the lorry. Despite that lack of training he had been filmed doing his job, including leaving the lorry in the way he did at the time of the accident, for training videos shown to new recruits.

The council admitted 80% liability and settled the claim out of court.

People operating heavy vehicles need appropriate training

Mr Armstrong said: “I blame my colleague for this accident because he took no care to ensure I was safely clear of the lorry before driving off. It’s meant I’ve lost my leg, lost a lot of pay and had to give up riding my motorbike – an activity I loved. I was determined that I would learn to cope with my injury, lead an independent life and get back to work as soon as possible which I feel proud that I have done.”

Margaret Thomas, Head of UNISON in Wales, said: “People operating heavy vehicles need appropriate training, and we hope that councils across the country take note of this case and make sure their refuse collectors – and other workers - have the training they need to keep their colleagues safe. Mr Armstrong has worked hard to get back to work and to get on with his life, and the compensation that he received will help make up for the difficulties he's been through, but it will never make up for him losing his leg.”

Anthony Welsh from Thompsons Solicitors added: “This case highlights the importance of good training for the drivers of refuse lorries. It is inevitable that colleagues will be hopping on and off the lorry and that should mean that extra care is taken to ensure their safety. In this case the driver’s lack of concentration led to Mr Armstrong losing a limb and having to face a very different and much harder future.”