Member secures £212,000 in compensation after fall from height causes serious ankle injury

An electrical technician has received £212,000 in compensation after falling from the access ladder of a crane, which caused a serious injury to his ankle and affected his ability to walk. 

Mark Nicholls, 54, was working at a manufacturing plant in Kent at the time of his accident. He was climbing to the upper section of the crane with the machine’s remote control in his right hand when he lost grip and fell backwards, hitting the crane’s framework during the six foot fall. 

The Unite member was taken to Darenth Valley Hospital where he needed several X-rays and a CT scan, after which it was confirmed that he had broken his ankle. Mark needed crutches and a fibreglass cast, leaving him unable to work for six months. 

After his accident, Mark returned to work on light duties for three months as his injury meant he could not do the work he was previously capable of. He has had an ankle arthroscopy and needs regular ostenil injections to ease his on-going pain. Mark has also had to wear custom-made footwear to allow him to place weight on his foot. 

He contacted Unite Legal Services to pursue a claim of compensation on his behalf. 

Unite Legal Services’ investigations found that Mark’s employer failed to enforce a safe operating procedure for accessing the cranes. He was not told to wear a safety harness or a tool bag to store the crane’s remote control when climbing the 13 foot ladder. 

Mark said: “I’ve always been very active and enjoyed gardening and playing cricket but since the accident this has had to completely stop. The impact of having reduced mobility has had a huge effect on my life. I’ve found myself relying on my family more and more to help me, which is difficult for them and me. 

“While I’m glad to be back at work, I’m not able to place any weight on my foot so I’m not as quick or efficient as I once was. My days off are spent resting my ankle so that I’m well enough to go back into work for my next shift and I’m not able to do any hobbies or household jobs that  I used to really enjoy. I can now only do very limited physical movements and if I’m busy then the simplest of things, like walking, can be extremely painful.”  

Tim Elliott, regional officer at Unite the Union, said: “It is very sad that Mark’s life has been so badly affected after his accident at work. He should have never been allowed to climb a 13 foot ladder with the crane’s remote control in his hand, and there should have been a safe system of work in place to prevent Mark from doing this. Unfortunately it’s taken our member to suffer a life-changing accident before a safe operating procedure for accessing cranes was put in place by his employer.”