Member suffers hernia in workplace accident

A maintenance engineer has received more than £6,000 in compensation after suffering a hernia in his groin when an eight-metre long pipe fell on him at work.

Unite member Paul Hodgson, 65, was employed by a coach manufacturer in Yorkshire. He was disassembling pipework on top of a 10-metre high spray booth, which was used to cover coaches with varnish when they were being built.

The pipework had not been completely drained of all of its contents before dismantling and, as a result, the weight of it was unbalanced when Paul tried to move it. He fell backwards and became trapped under the pipe.

Paul shouted to a colleague, who managed to help by using a cherry picker crane to access the top of the booth and pull the pipe off him.

The impact of the fall caused Paul to suffer an inguinal hernia. He needed surgery to repair it and seven weeks off work to recover.

It was later found that Paul should have had assistance doing this job to ensure that the pipework had been adequately drained before it was moved, but he was told by his employer to work alone.

Paul contacted Unite Legal Services who investigated a compensation claim for him.

He said: “My injury has caused me lots of discomfort, but I count myself lucky that a colleague was nearby to free me, otherwise who knows how long I could have been trapped.

“I’m a keen horse rider, but the hernia meant that for months I couldn’t sit even on a horse let alone ride one. Thankfully, the operation was successful and my groin is back to normal, but it’s frustrating that I’ve had to go through months of discomfort and disruption to my life to find out I should never have been put in a position where I doing the work singlehandedly in the first place.”

Karen Reay, North East Yorkshire and Humberside regional secretary of Unite the Union, said: “A simple risk assessment by this employer would have highlighted that its staff were at risk of injury by deconstructing the booths alone.

“He was expected to drain and remove extensive pipework by himself 10 metres off the ground. Losing balance in this situation could have resulted in a life-changing injury for our member, thankfully for him, though painful and disruptive, the consequences were less severe.

“His membership of Unite meant that he received 100% of his compensation, ensuring that he got back all that he lost in wages and outlays as well as compensation for his pain and suffering.”