A company has agreed a damages settlement with a former employee who suffered a broken foot when trapping it in machinery whilst doing his job.
Shaun Brennan, 30, was working as an HGV driver for Hull-based Heron Foods and operating a new tail-lift at the back of a lorry when the accident happened, as his right foot became trapped between the lift and truck, breaking his cuboid bone.
Following legal representation through accident at work specialists Hudgell Solicitors, Heron Foods agreed to an undisclosed settlement to Mr Brennan, despite refusing to accept responsibility for the accident.
Claim highlighted lack of appropriate training
A key part of the claim centred around Heron Foods’ failure to train Mr Brennan, of Elloughton, East Yorkshire, in using new lorries, which included under-slung tail lifts.
Before agreeing to pay the damages through insurers, the company claimed training had in fact taken place, but were unable to provide any records to prove it, claiming they had been lost.
The accident happened at a Heron Foods store in the West Midlands, where Mr Brennan was delivering groceries, on January 19, 2013.
He said: “I was delivering groceries in my articulated truck. I got the back doors opened and got the tail lift ready and stepped onto it. I started to press ‘up’ at that point and as it got to the top, I realised my foot was stuck between and lift and the truck.
“I started panicking and screaming.I managed to get my foot free and then collapsed onto the tail lift, and the store manager came running out and called an ambulance.”
Compensation claim helped cover loss of earnings
Mr Brennan was taken to New Cross Hospital, in Wolverhampton, where an X-ray revealed the break in his foot. It caused him to be off work for five months, and as he was still in pain, he underwent an operation to shave the bone off his toe several months later.
However, at that stage Mr Brennan says he was told he would not receive any further sick pay while off recovering for a further three weeks.
It was at that point that he decided to pursue a claim for compensation for the injury caused by the work accident, as he could not afford to be without pay.
“I told them that I needed the pay, and that it had been a work-related injury, but they said they were not paying me,” he added.
Mr Brennan, who used to be in the Army, has now developed arthritis in his injured foot and says he has been told by his consultant that it will never fully recover.
He said: “If I walk for a long time it’s painful. I was fit and sporty before and played football two or three times a week.
“Now, I still go to the gym but I can’t do things that I used to. I’ve always been used to physical jobs, like being in the Army, and exercising, and it’s taking a lot of getting used to that I can’t do those things anymore. It’s still sinking in.”
Mr Brennan, who is now working as a driver for another Hull company, lives with his partner and their two-year-old daughter.
He has spoken about his case as today marks World Day for Safety and Health at Work, an annual international campaign to promote safe, healthy and decent work.
He added: “I am glad that the case is settled and I can now close that chapter. I’m still angry that I have got problems with my foot and that I am going to suffer with it for the rest of my life. But I am much happier in my new job.”
‘Case highlights need for rigorous training and record-keeping’ – Andy Uridge
Andy Uridge, of Hudgell Solicitors, specialists inacting on behalf of those who suffer accidents at work, said: “Mr Brennan suffered pain and loss of earnings from his accident at work, which put him and his partner in difficult circumstances and caused a great deal of stress at the time.
Clearly, the firm did not admit liability in this case and claimed they had provided appropriate training, however, that was not what our client said to be the case, and they were unable to produce any evidence to support their claim of training having been completed.
All too often we see firms not following the correct health and safety procedures or failing to provide adequate training, putting employees at risk when using machinery.
This case highlights the need for rigorous training and record-keeping, and the effect that an accident at work has on a person’s physical health and wellbeing. We are glad they offered a damages settlement after our representation to reflect the impact the injury had on Mr Brennan.