Thompsons Work Accident Case Studies

Supermarket Workplace Accident Compensation– May 2017

On 25th May 2015, our client, Mr Gordon Tamplin, a general assistant at a Tesco in Glasgow, was injured at work while transporting stock from the back door of the store to the shop floor.

As a general assistant, it is Mr Tamplin's job to move stock around the site and fill shelves within the supermarket. On this particular occasion, during a late-night shift, he was transporting a heavy cage full of soft drinks.

Moving goods is something our client has much experience of and he followed all safety precautions when pulling the heavy cage from the warehouse to the store. However, one of the cage's four wheels locked when it went over a "divot" in the floor. This caused the cage to unexpectedly move forward, running over Mr Tamplin's left foot and causing him immediate pain.

The consequences

After receiving first aid at the store, our client was told he would need to go to the hospital to stop the bleeding under his middle and second little toe. Before leaving for the hospital, he recorded the details of the accident with his manager.

Our client went to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where an x-ray confirmed the incident had caused fractures to two of his toes. Because of the damage to his toes, Mr Tamplin was required to have his toenail removed and his foot bandaged. He was also prescribed pain relief medication.

He still experiences numbness in his toes and pain when bending them. An examination by a medical professional confirmed that some of his symptoms would be permanent.

Mr Tamplin was absent from work for two weeks and then returned to light duties. But he struggled with returning to work and had to take the rest of the week off. He initially received his basic wage but then was put on statutory sick pay for the days missed, and he also missed out on shift allowance.

Our client's injuries affected him in several ways. Small everyday tasks around the house – such as bathing, hoovering, ironing, and washing dishes, were much more difficult – and he was unable to drive for two weeks (he relied on a taxi to drive him to and from GP appointments). He was also unable to go to the gym, an activity he enjoys, for a period of three weeks.

The settlement

Mr Tamplin made the claim with the assistance of his union, USDAW.

Mr Tamplin believed his employer to be responsible for the accident because the cages and the shop floor were not properly maintained. Throughout recent training as a health and safety officer, our client became aware that problems with faulty wheels on cages are a common risk to Tesco employees and have been complained about on numerous occasions.

When Thompsons made Mr Tamplin's case known to his employer, they contested that no previous problems with the floor had been reported, and liability was denied. However, unsatisfied with their contention, we were able to obtain witness statements from colleagues who confirmed that complaints had previously been made about the hazardous floor. Employers have a duty to prevent foreseeable accidents at work and Tesco should have taken note of these complaints and fixed the issues.

Based on this evidence, we raised the case in the All Scotland Personal Injury Court, and a Tender of £5,000 was received shortly thereafter.

Based on the medical evidence available, we advised our client that this was a good offer, and on 30th May 2017 Mr Tamplin accepted a settlement of £5,000

 

Forklift driver work accident claim – May 2017

On 12 August 2014 our client, 54-year-old James Rankin, a material forklift driver from East Ayrshire, was working in the weighbridge department of the materials unit transporting a steel coil from the weighbridge slitter department to the inspection line when he suffered a workplace accident.

He was using a mechanised crane to unhook a half-tonne steel coil when it suddenly fell and landed on his foot.

The consequences

The steel coil completely flattened the steel cap on the pursuer’s work boots. A number of the man’s colleagues were present at the time and promptly called for first aid, and soon four first aiders were in attendance.

Shortly afterwards he was taken to Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock where he had his boots cut off before being taken for an x-ray. Inspection of the x-rays confirmed that he had broken the second and third metatarsal bones in his left foot, fractures to two toes and extensive swelling and bruising of the foot.

However, his foot was too swollen for a cast to be fitted immediately, so he spent three nights in hospital before being discharged with a plaster cast, which was removed around six weeks later.

He was unable to return to work for several months and was advised that when he did so he should undertake only light duties; furthermore, doctors told him to expect the swelling on his foot to last for between six and nine months.

The settlement

Mr Rankin instructed Thompsons work accident lawyers through his union. A claim was intimated, and liability was denied by the defender’s insurance company. It was their contention that Mr Rankin did not carry out his task on the day of the accident in accordance with his training.

However, we obtained supportive witness statements from Mr Rankin’s colleagues confirming that he carried out the task in accordance with standard practice in his workplace. Thereafter an injury claim was raised in the All Scotland Personal Injury Court.

The case was due to proceed to a pre trial meeting on 25 May 2017 at 2pm. Shortly before the pre-trial meeting, the defenders made an offer in the sum of £5,477.38. This offer was discussed but rejected.

A further offer of £6,000 was put forward in full and final work accident claim settlement. On 25 May 2017 this offer was discussed and accepted.

 

Compensation for road worker's elbow injury – May 2017

Our client worked for the City of Edinburgh Council. As a member of the street lighting team, our client had to erect lampposts, a job that involves breaking through concrete and rocks to create holes for the lampposts, which he then installed. To break the concrete, he was required to use a pinch bar, which is a metal bar with a spike at one end and chisel at the other. It's a tool our client used every day for at least two hours and sometime continuously for the whole day. The pinch bar requires strenuous effort to use. The workers must grip it using both hands and apply significant force to move the concrete.

The constant, repetitive use of this tool eventually resulted in our client developing a painful condition.

The Consequences

In 2012, our client began to experience niggling pain in his right elbow. This pain gradually became worse and spread to his left elbow, which led him to make a GP appointment. He was eventually referred to a physiotherapist, who, when our client complained of experiencing burning and itchiness in his forearms, realised he had suffered nerve damage and made a diagnosis of "golfer's elbow". The physiotherapist believed that it was the repetitive work that had caused the condition.

To help with the pain, cortisone injections were given to the client in each of his elbows.

So that he didn't sustain a loss of earnings, our client had to use up his holiday allowance for days he took off due to the pain in his elbows. His injury also meant it was harder to continue his role as carer for his partner, who has fibromyalgia, and he had to hire a cleaner to help with housework.

The Settlement

Thompsons intimated the claim against the City of Edinburgh Council with the help of the road worker's union, UNISON.

Our client had several reasons to place liability for his injury on his employer. For instance, the Council did not carry out any risk assessments on the pitch bar's use and ignored other employees' complaints about it, not making any attempts to rectify the problem until after our client's injury became worse. And although they moved the pursuer to the position of forklift driver for 3-4 months after he intimated the claim, during which time his symptoms improved, they soon moved him back to the street lighting department and required him to use the pinch bar again.

On the basis of the information provided by the member, our work accident solicitors believed the employer to be in breach of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. We carried out investigations to help the success of the case, which included gathering witness statements and instructing an expert medical report.

However, the medical report concluded that our client's work was not wholly responsible for his injury. Instead, the report suggested that our client may have had a pre-existing condition that was made worse by his work. This meant that the settlement was likely to be of lower value. What's more, the City of Edinburgh Council denied liability and refused to put forward any offer whatsoever, taking the position that they couldn't have done anything to prevent the claimant's injury.

However, the defender was unable to provide sufficient evidence to support their denial of liability, so Thompsons' work accident solicitors decided to raise a court action in the All Scotland Personal Injury Court and also sought a further expert witness report from a specialist in human factors and ergonomics, which confirmed the employer had likely been negligent.

This new information persuaded the defender that they were liable, and they proceeded to put forward an offer of £2,500, which our client accepted on May 24 2017.

 

Laundry Supervisor Workplace Accident Compensation – May 2017

Our client was working as a laundry supervisor at St John's Hospital in Livingston on 18 July 2016 when she suffered a workplace injury.

At the time of the incident she had been passing bags of dirty laundry to her colleague, who had to cut the bags open with scissors before emptying the clothes onto a conveyor belt so they could pass through a metal detector. After doing this, her colleague then had to turn to his right so he could throw the empty bag in a box behind him.

When a problem arose elsewhere in the laundry room, our client was required to walk behind her colleague. As she did so, he turned around to throw a bag in the box behind him and, as he was not fully aware of his surroundings, struck our client on her temple, very close to her eye, with the scissors.

The consequences

Immediately after the accident, our client's head was bleeding and our client reported the incident to her manager who recorded the details.

Our client suffered a 4mm haematoma to her cranial nerve and needed a tetanus jab from her GP. Following the workplace injury she also suffered severe migraines, which she needed medication for. These headaches caused her sleeping difficulties and over-sensitivity to light. The impact of the scissors also caused bruising, which took two weeks to subside. The headaches took five weeks to settle.

The lasting effects of the accident meant that our client struggled with domestic tasks and needed her daughter to help more than she ordinarily would with activities such as ironing, cleaning, and cooking.

Our client was absent from work for four weeks but did not suffer any loss of earnings as she was paid in full for the time missed. She was not required to pay for medication, and she didn't suffer any property damage as a result of the incident.

The settlement

To our client's knowledge, there has been no risk assessment regarding the process of using the scissors in the way described above, nor has there been any training to ensure incidents such as this do not happen again (a colleague informed our client that a similar incident had happened before). When our client took it upon herself to try to change the work procedure so there would be a reduced risk of similar incidents, her efforts were largely ignored. Because her employer failed to provide her with a sufficiently safe workplace and has not done enough to correct the situation, our client had strong grounds on which to make a claim.

The claim was made with the assistance of our client's union, Unison, through which she was able to instruct Thompson's work accident solicitors.

Vicarious liability was admitted and an initial offer was made. However, we considered this to be too low for our client and, after substantial negotiations, we were able to achieve a settlement that was 25 percent better than the initial offer – a sum of £1,575, which our client accepted on 24 May 2017.

 

Machinery accident for sheet metal worker – May 2017

On 19th October 2015 our client, John Latham, then a 33-year-old sheet metal worker with Merson Signs in East Kilbride, was working a night shift in the main saw area of the company’s open plan factory cutting 6-metre long sheets of aluminium.

It was at approximately 10pm that, when using a retractable saw and attempting to retrieve a cut sheet of aluminium, his left index finger came in to contact with the blade of a saw. Although it was not immediately obvious to the naked eye, the blade had not fully retracted as it should have done.

After feeling the contact with the blade, Mr Latham looked at his finger and noticed that it was cut and bleeding. He immediately informed his charge-hand and then attended the first aid room.

The consequences

On later attending Hairmyres Hospital, Mr Latham had his finger cleaned and bandaged. He also received an x-ray and the next day visited the orthopaedic department where it was confirmed that the saw blade had “nicked” a tendon and the injury would require a minor operation. After the operation our client received three stitches and these remained in place for ten days.

Mr Latham’s injuries and operation following the machinery accident resulted in considerable pain and inconvenience, as well as in reduced mobility of the affected finger. He was not able to enjoy his hobby of playing the X-Box and he required help with basic daily tasks. He continued to receive his regular wage, but missed out on night-time allowance and overtime payments.

On returning to work he learned that some steps had been taken to reduce the chances of a similar machinery accident occurring again; for example, an additional metal plate had been placed in front of the saw.

Medical experts expect the pursuer to have some pain and cold sensitivity in the affected finger for three to five years following the accident.

The settlement

Mr Latham instructed Thompsons personal injury solicitors in Scotland through his union, Unite, and we argued a number of workplace safety failures. These arguments were made in reference to Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, Workplace (Health Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Liability was admitted by the defendant and on 17 May 2017 an offer of £6,000 compensation was accepted in addition to a sum of £696.89 for lost earnings.

 

Compensation for snow plough accident – May 2017

On the winter afternoon of 10th December 2015 our client, a 26-year-old local authority road worker and lorry driver from Airdrie in North Lanarkshire, was asked by his managers to get a snow plough ready for use. This was despite the fact it was already dark and that the client had previously been informed during a health and safety meeting that snow ploughs should not be prepared without adequate light.

Unfortunately, while assisting a colleague in attaching the snow plough to the front of a truck, the 26-year-old tripped over the leg of the metal plough, sustaining an injury to his lower back.

The consequences

The injured man immediately informed his Operator of the accident but was asked if he would try to carry on with his shift so, after an application of heat treatment spray, he returned to work, eventually finishing at 11pm.

The next morning he woke to intense pain in his lower and mid back, for which he self-medicated. After a week he sought medical assistance from his GP, who prescribed painkillers and a course of exercise.

However, the pain persisted and in March the man sought further medical treatment. An MRI scan helped doctors to diagnose inflammation down our client's left side.

The workplace accident caused the employee to miss a significant period of work, during which time he lost out on overtime payments and shift allowance. He was also unable to pursue his hobbies of going to the gym and playing football.

The settlement

The 26-year-old instructed Thompsons Solicitors through his union, Unison. We arranged for him to see a consultant orthopaedic surgeon who diagnosed him with a four-month soft tissue injury.

Medical evidence was sent to the insurance representatives of the man's employer who swiftly made a work accident compensation offer of £2,300, which our client accepted as a full and final settlement in May 2017.

 

HGV Driver chlorine gas exposure accident – May 2017

On 15th May 2017, our client, an asthma sufferer, received a settlement of £5,500 for an injury he suffered as a result of exposure to a hazardous substance in the workplace, on the morning of 5th January 2016.

While working as an HGV driver for Suttons Transport Group Ltd, our client was injured as he discharged a tank full of chlorine at CalaChem Ltd, in Grangemouth. Having pulled into the chlorine discharge point, the driver had to line up with discharge lines. To do this properly, he needed to open his window.

Discharging chlorine was a process our client had done many times before with no incident, but a mistake made by a CalaChem operator while hooking up the discharge lines meant that chlorine gas was able to enter our client's vehicle.

Despite quickly putting on his Gemini mask and exiting the HGV as soon as he could smell chlorine, our client still inhaled some of the hazardous gas – unfortunately, enough for it to have had an adverse effect on his health.

Consequences

Immediately after the exposure, our client began coughing and experiencing tightness in his chest. He was taken to the medical centre at the CalaChem site, where he was given oxygen. An ambulance then took him to Forth Valley Hospital, where he was monitored using an ECG machine. He also had to undergo blood tests and a chest x-ray.

As a result of the exposure, our client's asthma was exacerbated from 20 per cent to 50 per cent disability, with his symptoms becoming far more problematic than they were before the incident.

His symptoms – very tight chest and shortness of breath – affected his ability to carry out household tasks, including vacuuming and gardening. It took four months for his asthma to return to its previous level of severity prior to the chemical exposure accident.

His injury also caused him to suffer a loss of earnings for the time he was absent from work – calculated at approximately £900.

After the incident, HSE visited Calachem to conduct an investigation.

Settlement

The work accident claim was auctioned with the assistance of the client's union, UNITE.

CalaChem admitted vicarious liability for the accident as the inexperienced operator was found to have not hooked up the discharge lines correctly and this caused the exposure. The defendant company admitted liability prior to litigation, and an injury compensation settlement of £5,500 was offered and accepted.

 

Compensation for trip injury – April 2017

In May 2015 our client, Mrs Laura Stuart, a 73-year-old widower, had a water works blockage under her driveway. Scottish Water contracted Chap Construction Ltd to repair the blockage, which involved the workers having to remove part of our client's driveway.

Unfortunately, they did not replace the driveway properly after fixing the blockage, leaving the driveway's edging jagged and protruding at the corner. A few months later, on 11 August, Mrs Stuart's foot got caught under the broken part of the edging, causing her to fall.

The consequences

As a result of the fall, Mrs Stuart broke her right hip. Recovering from the accident was tough for her, as she could not see her house and garden as she normally did.

The settlement

Mrs Stuart instructed Thompsons personal injury solicitors through her union, Usdaw. Chap Construction admitted liability and we were able to reach settlement of £25,000.

However, despite the result, Mrs Stuart is still concerned because, at the time of the settlement, Chap Construction has still not returned to repair her driveway, so there is a chance she could fall again or that a visitor will fall in the same way she did.

 

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