Warehouse operator's slip on ice

Our client, who was involved in a slip accident at work on 28 January 2017, was employed as a warehouse operative by the Co-op.

His role required him to pick items for order, place them in cages, and take them to the loading bay to be transported to stores. The cages were attached to a low-level order picker truck (LLOP). On the night of his accident, he was working in the freezer department. He parked his LLOP in an aisle to retrieve a cardboard box full of bread, but as he was walking back to the LLOP, his left foot slipped on a patch of built-up ice. Despite trying to put his right wrist out to break his fall, he fell on to his back.

After getting to his feet, he tried to finish the order, but the growing pain in his wrist meant he couldn't continue, so he instead went to inform his team assistant leader about the incident. The assistant team leader took a photograph of the ice and then had our client looked over by a first aider.

The consequences

A colleague took our client to hospital, where he was given an x-ray on his wrist. This confirmed he had sustained soft tissue damage. At this time he also started to experience pain in his back and legs. The hospital staff suggested that this was muscular and provided him with pain relief medication.

He was eventually able to get an appointment with his GP, who believed he was suffering from sciatica and suggested physiotherapy.

Our client struggled a lot around his house while recovering from his injury. Household chores and looking after his five-year-old son were much more challenging at this time, and he required assistance from his girlfriend to help with this. He also couldn't enjoy going out for walks or going fishing.

In addition to this, the accident and its aftermath were very stressful for our client as it came at a time when he was undergoing counselling.

He tried returning to work after one week of absence, but was only able to complete one shift because the pain in his back and legs became severe. He therefore took another week off. As a result, he was paid sick pay during his absence and so lost out on some of his usual earnings. He also incurred additional expenses in the form of having to take taxis to work.

The settlement

Our client was able to instruct our work accident solicitors through Usdaw, his union. As was evident from our client's accident, the procedures put in place to ensure the work environment remained safe were not sufficient. Ice should not have been allowed to build up in such a way that it created a slipping hazard for employees. One of our client's colleagues was responsible for carrying out ice checks, but they hadn't made it to his aisle before the accident occurred.

We therefore proceeded to intimate a claim to his employers, who admitted liability. Our client went for an examination by a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, and the resulting medical report confirmed that he'd suffered a soft tissue injury to his lower back and recommended physiotherapy sessions. After we contacted his employer, they agreed to fund six therapy sessions, which helped aid our client’s recovery.

We sent the medical report as well as a valuation to the insurance company acting on behalf of the employer, who put forward an offer of £5,487.22 in response. After discussions with our client, we decided that it would be possible to receive an increased offer and, therefore, rejected it. The insurers then put forward a further offer of £5,710 in full and final settlement. We had further discussions with our client, who confirmed he wished to accept this sum. The case was settled on 8 August 2017.

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