Personal Injury
Serious Injury

Man tells how accident almost cost his life as UK staff raise concerns over health and safety standards at work

Matt Burke accident at work

Jane Woodcock

Consultant Lawyer

4 min read time
14 Jun 2016

Matthew Burke was doing a job he had done many times before when he fell off stepladders at work and suffered bleeding on the brain – almost costing him his life.

He had been manually lifting scaffolding onto shelving at his workplace at the end of a shift – a job he had done almost every day.

However, it was a work practice which broke health and safety laws given the height and weight of objects being lifted without support or machinery.

Falling from the ladders, Matthew’s head felt the full force of impact with a concrete floor, leaving him having to learn to walk again, unable to work and unable to socialise.

He was also left scarred for life, and facing a battle firstly for survival, and then to rebuild his life.

“Everything can change in a second,” he said, recalling his accident.

“I was doing something I did day in, day out at work, but it almost cost me my life. From being a fit and healthy 28-year-old man I went to being at death’s door in a matter of seconds, and that really brought it home to me how fragile life can be.”

Matthew eventually received a six-figure damages settlement for his injury after being represented by Hudgell Solicitors in an accident at work compensation claim.

It was a settlement which enabled him to access vital rehabilitation and counselling support, as well as buy his own house to provide security for what was, at one stage, a very uncertain future.

Now, four years after his injury, Matthew is back working in a less physical job role and competing in sports and marathons. He is looking ahead with positivity, keen to help others who suffer a similar fate.

Today, he has been sharing his story on radio stations across the country, as more than a quarter of UK-based employees questioned in a new survey said they feel their bosses are failing to maintain high standards of health and safety – leaving them at an increased danger of suffering an injury.

“There were some dark days where I felt down after my injury, and I admit that I felt isolated,” Matthew added.

“It was my counselling that helped lift my spirits, kept me positive and gave me some focus to where I was heading. I was calmer and more relaxed, and focussed on the end goal.

“Without doubt there will be many employees doing what I did and putting themselves at risk just to get the job done.

“I was left in a really difficult place in my life and I needed that expert support and advice from my solicitors to ensure I secured the compensation I needed to give me stability at a really troubled time. It was invaluable support.”

The research showed;

  • More than a quarter of workers feel their employers fail to meet high Health and Safety Standards
  • 4 in 10 people know of someone who has been injured in an accident at work
  • Almost half would worry about the repercussions of taking legal action against their employers should they suffer an accident at work (45.8%)
  • 84% of people don’t realise injury at work compensation claims can be made up to three years after accidents – even if they have long left the company responsible.

Jane Woodcock, a specialist in handling compensation claims for people injured in an accident at work at Hudgell Solicitors, said: “We see many situations where staff take risks simply to get the job done, risking injury. That could be by working without the relevant safety equipment, or by using tools which are known to be faulty.

“Accidents at work have a major impact on the lives of many people we represent. It can be a major worry to find yourself unable to work and earn for your family, and that can place a lot of pressure on family life.

“We are passionate about ensuring people injured at work, through no fault of their own, benefit from our support and legal expertise.”

It is estimated a total of around 611,000 injuries occurred in UK workplaces in 2014/15, with 142 people killed whilst doing their jobs.


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Man tells how accident almost cost his life as UK staff raise concerns over health and safety standards at work

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