Member suffers crush injury in accident at work depot

A delivery driver who suffered a crush injury to her hand and arm after she was struck by a lorry has been compensated with the backing of Unite Legal Services.

48-year-old Helen Waycott was in a busy depot in Hemel Hempstead at the time of accident. She was closing the rear doors of her lorry when another lorry attempted to move past her, to make room for a third vehicle that was using nearby space in the depot.

Helen warned the driver that she would need to close her doors before the vehicle could safely pass, but the driver pulled forward and, in doing so, crushed her right hand and arm between the moving lorry cab and the door she was trying to close.

The depot was known for being overcrowded and vehicles would often be forced to stop in unsafe locations, making driving around the area difficult.

Helen was taken to hospital, by which point her arm had swelled and she needed a plaster cast. Although no bones were broken, she developed complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), a debilitating condition that causes pain in areas of the body damaged by injury.

After the accident, Helen made two attempts to return to work – the first after six weeks and again after 18 months - but she was in too much pain to do her job. She made the decision to leave her job and is yet to find alternative employment.

Helen contacted Unite Legal Services to investigate a claim for compensation on her behalf.

Helen said: “I count myself lucky; the camera in the cab of my lorry filmed the accident, which meant that the depot had to admit responsibility. There should have been more space available for drivers to stop to check their vehicles were safe to drive, but that was not the case in the depot.

“Physiotherapy has helped to an extent with my physical recovery and the compensation has meant I could clear my debts and start looking for alternative work.”

Peter Kavanagh, regional secretary at Unite the Union, said: “Delivery depots generally have a high volume of vehicles using them and that’s why it’s vital they should have adequate space for drivers to do their job safely. Unfortunately for Helen, this particular depot was a notorious hotspot for overcrowding and her accident is a result of the risks not being thought through, health and safety just wasn't taken seriously enough.

“Unite Legal Services secured an interim payment for Helen, which meant that she could pay for her mortgage while we worked to settle the case against the negligent depot owner.”