A Unite member who suffered multiple fractures to his foot after being hit and then run over by a forklift at work has received £35,000 in damages.
59-year-old Paul Winter, who works for a magazine printing company, was collecting new reels to insert into large printers when the accident occurred. He was pulling a pallet truck loaded with reels when a forklift truck reversed from behind a wall, knocked him to the ground and ran over his right foot.
In the accident Paul suffered a blow to his head and multiple fractures to his foot. He needed surgery to fuse the bones in his foot and suffered a concussion and a temporary loss of memory.
He had to take six months off work while he was on crutches and his foot healed. Paul has returned to the same job but continues to suffer pain and has been warned by doctors that the injury might lead to him developing arthritis.
Since the accident, Paul’s employer was investigated by health and safety officials, who advised that staff members on foot should be provided with alternative routes so they don’t walk in close proximity to forklift trucks. His employer also fitted mirrors to improve vision in areas with blind spots.
Paul contacted Unite Legal Services to pursue a compensation claim on his behalf.
He said: “I don’t really remember much of the accident, but I’m not surprised that I was knocked over by the truck. A few of my colleagues had complained that they had nearly been hit by a truck in the past, but nothing was done to make the factory safer for us.
“I was always on my feet at work so being housebound and relying on a crutch was extremely frustrating. I’ve been able to return to work but the pain has never really gone away and the worry now is whether I develop arthritis later down the line.”
Karen Reay, North East, Yorkshire and Humberside regional secretary at Unite the Union, said: “Any workplace with staff working near moving vehicles should ensure that there are clear boundaries that are enforced, had there been at this workplace Paul’s accident wouldn’t have happened.
“Even though there were previous reports of near-miss accidents the employer did nothing about it. Unacceptably it took a nasty injury before they did.
“Through his membership of Unite the Union, Paul received expert legal advice that resulted in him securing a settlement for his injuries and his employer being held responsible for its lack of care.”