Member compensated after accident at work leads to early retirement

A lorry driver who had to take early retirement after an accident at work has been compensated thanks to Unite Legal Services.

As he was making a delivery for a waste management company in Northamptonshire, a lever to open the rear door of his lorry unexpectedly sprung outwards when he sought to activate it, jerking his right shoulder.

Although in some pain he completed his shift, but visited his GP the next morning with severe bruising on his shoulder. He was referred to hospital where an MRI scan revealed that he had suffered a muscle tear to his shoulder.

The Unite member was unable to return to work before his planned retirement because of the severity of pain he was experiencing, and has since had extensive physiotherapy to improve his mobility.

It was later found that the lever malfunctioned because the cargo was packed too tightly, which had caused a build-up of pressure in the lorry. Since the accident, the employer has reduced the amount of cargo that can be loaded into trucks.

The lorry driver contacted Unite Legal Services to investigate a compensation claim.

He said: “I wasn’t the only person to have trouble opening the truck doors but my employer didn’t react to earlier complaints. You could never tell how compressed the load in the lorry was until it was too late. I guess it just caught me worse than the others.

“Since the accident, simple things like playing with my grandchildren and gardening are now almost impossible as I have limited strength in my arm because of the pain.

“The help from Unite Legal Services was brilliant. Without my union I wouldn’t have been able to bring a legal claim, so I am very grateful for all of the support I have had.”

Kevin Hepworth, Unite East Midlands legal officer, said: “It’s sad to see an experienced member of staff have to end his career so close to retirement because of an accident at work, which could have been completely avoided.

“Unfortunately, our member’s injury means that he may never be pain-free, but he was very grateful to receive full compensation which will help him financially as he moves on with his retirement.”