Paper mill worker compensated for shoulder injury

Unite Legal Services has secured compensation for a member who was diagnosed with shoulder impingement syndrome caused by repetitive heavy lifting working at a paper mill in Canterbury.

Richard Wrench worked for 48 years in the paper mill industry and 10 years as a roll making machine operator, loading and unloading rolls of paper that weighed up to 15kgs, in 12 hour shifts.

The repetitive nature of his work resulted in the onset of severe shoulder pain and sciatica. It also meant that Richard could not lift using his left shoulder.

After seeking medical advice, Richard was given a steroid injection and referred for a course of physiotherapy. However, the treatment did not alleviate his symptoms and he went on to have surgery on his injured shoulder.

Despite the surgery Richard still experiences occasional discomfort and pain, he has also chosen to take early retirement in part because of his injury.

After his diagnosis, Richard contacted Unite Legal Services to investigate a claim for compensation on his behalf.

Richard said: “I’ve always worked at the paper mill and was hoping to make it to 50 years of employment but because of my injury I’ve had to give up work.

“Initially, the pain was unbearable and it was impossible to lift anything with my left shoulder. I was a longstanding employee at the paper mill, I really enjoyed my job but the impact my injury has had on me personally has been really difficult.”

Tim Elliott, officer at Unite the Union, said: “Employers have no excuse not to be aware of the impact that constant repetitive and laborious tasks have especially if they involve lifting of weights, and the long-term damage. Richard and his colleagues were regularly lifting rolls of paper up to 15 kg in weight.”