An electrician who was permanently disabled after falling from scaffolding and fracturing his spine in two places has received compensation after help from Unite Legal Services.

The 70-year-old from Treorchy in Mid Glamorgan now walks with a stick and wears a back brace as a result of the accident at NG Bailey in Cardiff.

The Unite the Union member had worked for the electrical contractors for nine years before the accident. He was using a moveable scaffolding platform to access the ground floor of a new building where he was fitting electrical cables, when it toppled backwards and he fell 1.3 meters, landing on his bottom and suffering a compressed spine.

The scaffolding platform had been erected by trained scaffolders but the untrained Unite member was left to move it into place and he failed to secure it before beginning work.

He spent 10 days flat on his back in hospital before having intensive physiotherapy and hydrotherapy to help him walk. He is still in a great deal of pain.

Previously fit and healthy aged 68, he had hoped to continue working until his 70th birthday but after the accident had no choice but to retire.

Following the accident the electrician asked Unite for advice and the union instructed Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation on behalf of Unite Legal Services.

NG Bailey admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.

Clear breach of working at height regulations

The Unite member said: “It was so disappointing having to leave a job I loved through no fault of my own. I am angry that my employer put me in such a dangerous situation by expecting me to work with equipment I hadn’t been trained to use properly. As a result it is not just my career that has ended before I intended it to, but my retirement has been ruined because of the constant pain I am in and the restricted movement I now have. I’m grateful to Unite for helping me to get compensation, but I would rather have had a healthy and active retirement.”

Belinda Robertson, Regional Equalities Officer from Unite the Union added: “This accident was caused by a clear breach of working at height regulations. This scaffolding platform should have been secured in place by someone with the correct training to make sure it couldn’t topple over. It is now our member who is paying the price of his employer’s neglect. The government wants to make it more difficult for injured people to pursue claims like this because it believes health and safety regulations are a burden on business. The reality is that the burden of breaches of regulations falls on our injured members.

“This is a success for Unite Legal Services and all our members should take some comfort from knowing that our legal services are at hand to act for members and their families.”

Petra Williams from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Working at height regulations are in place to prevent this type of accident from happening. This case shows you how badly things can go wrong if simple checks and measures are not put into practice. Carrying out a risk assessment is far cheaper for an employer in the long run than having to pay compensation to an injured worker.”