Firefighter's Back Injury Claim for Training Accident

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In July 2018, Thompsons' personal injury solicitors in Scotland were contacted by our client, Mr B Masterton, a 33-year-old firefighter with Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, in relation to a work accident back injury he sustained while at the Thornton training facility on 20 April 2018. Mr Masterton had been referred to Thompsons by his union, the FBU.

The background

Our client had been attending the training facility with Scottish Fire and Rescue Service colleagues for training on entanglement situations. As part of the process, Mr Masterton entered a box which is designed to simulate a situation in which a firefighter might become stuck and entangled.

Mr Masterton was wearing breathing apparatus and a full fire kit, including helmet and boots. However, he did not receive any instruction, guidance or support throughout the process and soon after entering the box, felt a pain at the bottom of his back. He was not offered assistance and had to carry on with the exercise to get himself free.

Our client noted that it was unusual to be asked to undertake such an exercise without receiving any prior demonstration, talk through, or discussion of the risk assessment process..

The consequences

At no point following the initial exercise was Mr Masterton asked if he was all right. Furthermore, he had to move on to the next exercise despite feeling pain which he rated as eight out of ten.

At the lunch break he informed a supervisor that he was suffering from pain in his back caused by his experience in the entanglement situation. The training department was informed, and Mr Masterton was then signed off as unfit for duty. He went home and took painkillers.

On 27 April he tried to book himself as fit for work again but was told that because of the nature of his injury, i.e as it was a back injury, he would first need to see his employer's occupational health team, which then arranged for him to commence physiotherapy on 29 May. The physiotherapist diagnosed damage between two discs in his back and injury to the sciatic nerve.

Mr Masterton had trouble sleeping because of his injuries, continual pain in his back and leg and when he returned to work on 4 June was only able to fulfil light duties.

The settlement

Mr Masterton's work accident back injury caused him to miss out on overtime worth around £700 a month.

After being contacted by Thompsons' personal injury solicitors, the employer admitted liability and breach of the Health and Safety at Work Regulations. On 2 July 2019, Mr Masterton agreed to settle the work accident back injury compensation claim for £4,753.

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