Unite supports paramedic in work accident claim

A Unite member from York has been awarded compensation after he injured his back in a work accident.

Paramedic, Andrew, jarred his back and suffered a prolapsed disc after an elderly man he was helping slipped on ice. Andrew lost his balance and fell over landing awkwardly on his vehicle’s door as he did so. 

Andrew couldn’t work for six weeks and relied on painkillers to ease the pain.

The Unite member said: “I felt a sharp pain in my back as soon as I hit the vehicle. It left me out of action for several weeks and even now, years after the accident, I worry that I’m not as physically fit as I used to be.”

Unite Legal Services supported Andrew in a compensation claim. It was found in court that the duty of care his employer’s owed to him should have extended to encompass his work in the community. Taking that into account basic safety equipment, such as grips for Andrew’s shoes, should have been provided and the Judge found that the failure to do so was a breach of the employer’s health and safety duties towards Andrew. 

“I turned to Unite Legal Services because of the principle of this case. The safety of paramedics is important because if we’re in danger we cannot do our jobs effectively.

“I hope my experience encourages other paramedics, who have been unfairly injured as a result of trying to help others, to come forward.”

Karen Reay, North East, Yorkshire and Humberside regional secretary at Unite the Union, said: “Employers have an obligation to ensure workers are kept as safe as possible while doing their jobs. Andrew would often be told to put snow chains on the tyres of his emergency vehicle when the weather was poor, but the same precautions didn’t apply to his footwear. 

“Our member was left in pain due to his employer’s thoughtlessness. Fortunately, Unite Legal Services was there to support him and, with this result, hopefully set a precedent for the future. We hope this is a warning to other employers that they should take health and safety seriously.”