Member suffers life-changing back injury in an accident at work

A Unite member who suffered a broken back when a colleague lost control of a motorised vehicle at a London airport has secured compensation.

Mick Draper, from Baintree, Essex was injured when a colleague drove a buggy, used for transporting trailers full of luggage, into a trolley Mick was attending to.

The buggy hit Mick’s elbow and threw him several feet onto a nearby luggage chute. He landed heavily breaking three bones in his back, which needed reconstructive surgery.

Following the accident he attempted to work through the pain for some weeks but he woke up one morning unable to move.

Initially he was referred for physiotherapy before specialists diagnosed a broken back. He has been left in constant pain in his back and finds it difficult to walk, lift and carry out simple tasks.

Prior to the accident, Mick was a senior shop steward with Unite and he contacted Unite Legal Services for advice on claiming compensation.

Investigations found the buggy driver had been working 17 hour days for the last 11 days when the accident occurred.

The Unite member had previously warned bosses that the practice of allowing workers to work excessive hours would lead to an accident but his concerns were ignored.

Mick said: “I’d warned my bosses before that the practice of staff working excessive hours was dangerous but my concerns were ignored. I knew that this was an accident waiting to happen but never imagined it would be me that would end up paying the consequences.

“My injuries have completely changed my life. I was extremely active until the accident and now the only time I’m not in pain is when I lie down.”

Peter Kavanagh, from Unite the Union, said: “This member has been left disabled by an accident, which could have been easily avoided. The employer only needed to ensure that staff were not working excessive hours, and the health and safety of the workforce would not have been put at risk.”