A welder who needed surgery after a 10ft long steel beam fell on his foot has received compensation from his employer, with the help of his trade union the GMB.

The 51-year-old from Wetherby was moving the 10ft long and two foot wide beam using an overhead pendant operated crane as part of his job as a welder for Severfield Reeve Ltd.

He had been shifting beams without incident for four hours. But when he moved this particular beam it broke free from the crane’s plate grab and fell to the floor, crushing his left foot.

He suffered severe crush injuries, including a broken big toe and large open wound in his foot which needed surgery. He was in hospital for a week and off work for three months.

Investigations into the accident found the plate grab was faulty and it was removed from use.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

The welder has been left with permanent symptoms including pain when standing and working for long periods of time. He has a 25% chance of developing arthritis and if he does develop the condition he will need further surgery.

Following the accident the GMB instructed its lawyers, Thompsons Solicitors, to pursue a claim for compensation.

Thompsons argued that Severfield Reeve should have ensured the crane was well maintained and in safe working order.

Severfield Reeve admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.

The GMB member, who has worked with the firm for 18 years, said: “I’d been moving steel beams most of the day when one suddenly fell from the crane, landing on my foot. The pain was immense and I knew I had done some serious damage. My foot is now still very tender and I get a lot of pain, particularly when I’ve been standing or walking for a long time.

“I used to play golf and I’ve had to give that up. However I’m still working as a welder and I’m determined to keep going as I enjoy my job.”

Accident could have been avoided

Tim Roache GMB regional secretary said: “Employers have an absolute duty to maintain work equipment. The consequences of failing to do so can be expensive and in the worst case scenario may result in the death of a worker. Our member is now permanently disabled but is fortunate that he came away with his life.”

Stephen Woolford from Thompsons Solicitors added: “This accident could have been avoided if the employers had maintained the crane in safe working order. It is only by good fortune that our client’s injuries were not more severe.

“Employers have an absolute duty to maintain work equipment, as the consequences of failing to do so can be very severe. Where defendants fail to comply with their duties in the conduct of claims such as this, Thompsons will always take proactive steps to force them to comply.”