NHS worker's manual handling injury

When he suffered a workplace accident on 2 September 2014, our client was employed by NHS Lothian at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE) in the Sterilisation Department. On the day of his accident, he was situated in the decontamination area.

Working in this area, our client had to move around trolleys packed with surgical trays and also clean the trays. There were two lines of tightly packed trolleys, and our client needed to remove a trolley from the rear of one of the lines to get to a tray for cleaning. As the handles on this trolley were not accessible, our client placed his hands on the top bumper strip. He wiggled the trolley slightly and then tried pulling it gently. However, the trolley failed to move. Our client thought that this was due to the rear wheels being caught. As a result he continued to pull the trolley to free it from the adjoining one. When he did, the trolley suddenly came free and ran over his right foot.

The Consequences

He decided not to seek medical treatment immediately after the accident and instead went home. But when the pain didn't improve overnight, he attended the A&E department at his workplace. It was confirmed he had a soft tissue injury to his foot. He didn't make a full recovery for nine months, but the injury had mostly resolved in seven weeks.

As he didn't want to lose overtime and had scheduled annual leave starting the week of the accident, he didn't take any time off work, but the pain caused him to struggle with a few daily tasks, such as shopping and driving.

The Settlement

Our client instructed Thompsons' work accident solicitors through his union, UNISON.

Because our client had not been sufficiently trained to carry out this task, his employer was held liable for the incident. Our client did receive annual manual handling training, but this never covered handling the trolleys. He also shouldn't have been asked to fill in for his supervisor in the first place.

The defender put forward an offer of £1,500 compensation for the soft tissue injury to our client's foot. We discussed this offer with our client and, considering the medical evidence available and the amount of suffering the injury had caused, we agreed this was fair. The case was settled on 11 August 2017.

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