Employer that failed to fix faulty work equipment is brought to book by Unite Legal Services

A Unite member who suffered a frozen shoulder after his vision was clouded by ammonia vapour, which caused him to fall and injure himself has received compensation with help from Unite Legal Services.

Phillip Walters, from Bridgend, was working at a steel plant and walking past an incinerator when it blew out a cloud of ammonia vapour, temporarily affecting his sight. As he tried to clear his vision he tripped on a concrete plinth and his left arm went through a scaffolding ladder, which had been propped up against a scaffolding pole.

He suffered a frozen shoulder, which meant he was off work for four months and when he returned was on light duties for a further two months.

During his time off he needed physiotherapy and was unable to drive. He still suffers some pain in his shoulder but has been told he is likely to make a full recovery.

Phillip had warned bosses about the incinerator blowing out clouds of vapour several months earlier, but his complaints were ignored.

He contacted Unite Legal Services to investigate a claim for compensation. Unite found the incinerator was faulty yet management had done nothing to fix the problem and went on to secure £7,000 for Phillip.

He said: “I had warned my bosses about the clouds of ammonia vapour coming out of the incinerator. They made it difficult to see where you were going if you were walking in that area. It was an accident waiting to happen but I had no idea that it would be me that would end up injured.

“I had to take a lot of time of work and during that period, I couldn’t drive and needed a lot of support from my family. Fortunately my shoulder is now much better and I’ve been told by doctors that it should make a full recovery. I’m just glad that the accident wasn’t more serious.”

A Unite spokesperson said: “This member’s injury could have been avoided if the walkway had been kept clear and the incinerator repaired when the defects were first reported. Management have no excuse when they ignore reported problems.”