A shop worker who suffered a serious back injury after her employers ignored complaints about a dangerous staircase has received £5,000 in compensation. 

Angela Hurcomb, 55, from Hereford was forced to take two months off work as a result of her injuries after she fell down a spiral staircase while working for Past Times in the town. 

She needed physiotherapy after damaging her back and hip.

The PCS member had worked for her employers for more than seven years before the accident in January 2008.

The shop had recently changed locations to a listed building. She was coming down the stairs after visiting a storage room when she slipped.

Treads on the staircase were inadequate

She fell despite holding onto the handrail but a later inspection by an environmental trading standards officer found the treads on the staircase were inadequate. 

While structural alterations couldn’t be made to the staircase as it was a listed building, improvements could have been made. In fact, despite complaints to the employers before the accident by Mrs Hurcomb and her colleagues, nothing had been done.

As Mrs Hurcomb’s husband is a member of the Public and Commercial Services union, she was covered by its personal injury scheme. Following the accident she contacted the union which instructed its lawyers, Thompsons Solicitors, to pursue a claim for compensation.

Thompsons secured an out of court settlement after Past Times admitted liability. The shop has now put rubber edging on the stairs to prevent a similar accident from happening.

Still suffers pain from accident

Mrs Hurcomb is now working for a different employer and has been forced to give up horse riding. She said: “My life has changed dramatically since the accident. I used to ride my neighbour’s horse every day but my injuries mean I can no longer ride and I cannot drive for longer than half an hour. 

“I am still in pain but I try hard not to give into it and I am determined to keep working as long as I can.”

Phil Madelin, PCS’s national legal services officer, said: “With PCS, it’s not just our members who are covered for personal injury claims, but their families as well. While Mrs Hurcomb’s life will never be the same again, we were pleased to be able to help secure some financial recompense.”

Martin Fell from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Adapting listed buildings to bring them up to modern health and safety standards is a challenge but in this case simple and not very costly measures would have avoided Mrs Hurcomb suffering for the rest of her life. A listed building is no excuse for ducking out of basic safety obligations.”