Bus driver sacked after accident at work causes limited movement to neck and shoulders

A Unite member who suffered injuries to her neck and shoulder following an accident at work has been awarded compensation with the help of Unite Legal Services.

Louise Welford, who was employed as a bus driver by First West Yorkshire Ltd in Leeds, was getting newspapers for the bus she was due to drive from an unlit shed at a bus depot.

As Louise left the shed she fell forwards, landing on her left side. At the time, she had not realised that she had actually caught both of her feet in a white plastic tie on the floor, which are used to bind the newspapers together.

The accident was reported and recorded in the accident book and she returned to work. Louise then visited her GP who diagnosed soft-tissue injuries to her whole left side, most notably her neck and shoulder.

Louise took a couple of days off work and continued to suffer pain and limited movement. Unfortunately a course of physiotherapy did not help and her employment was terminated on the grounds of ill health.

Louise contacted Unite Legal Services to pursue a claim of compensation. Investigations revealed that there were numerous health and safety failures and it was a common occurrence that the plastic ties were on the shed floor. A similar accident involving plastic ties had in fact occurred a few weeks prior to Louise’s. 

The shed also had no lighting in the surrounding area, therefore, it was impossible to see the floor properly. 

An independent medical report funded by Unite Legal Services revealed that the accident had aggravated underlying issues in Louise’s neck, accelerating her symptoms.

Louise’s employer admitted primary liability for the accident and later offered a full and final settlement of £17,000, which was accepted. 

Louise said: “The outcome of my accident wasn’t just the short-term physical pain and discomfort I suffered, but also the permanent damage that I have been left with.

“This is a situation that could very easily have been avoided. I’m very grateful to Unite Legal Services for its support throughout the legal process. I should never have suffered an injury because of my job but I’m glad I had the backing of my trade union to make sure I was compensated for my employer’s lack of consideration for my safety.”

Karen Reay, North East Yorkshire and Humberside regional secretary of Unite the Union, said:  “An accident at work that results in an injury is a horrible experience. By pursuing her claim through Unite Legal Services, she has received 100% of her compensation for an injury that she should never have suffered, and her employer has rightfully been held solely to account.”