£110,000 Awarded to Employee Injured at Building Site

Mr Peter Lowe suffered an accident at work after heavy snowfall in January 2010. Here is his story:

Mr Lowe was working as a ground worker on a building site as he had done for many years before. The day of the accident was extremely wintery. The lane leading down to the site where Mr Lowe was working had been covered by several inches of snow the night before; this meant that workers had to Employeepark their cars at the top of the lane and walk down to the site.

Once he arrived at the site he found that despite the fact it had been gritted it was still covered over because of the heavy snowfall the previous night.

Mr Lowe says:

“When I first began working for [the company] they provided me with general health and safety training. This training was updated regularly…

The foreman told us that half of the workers were to clear the site, around the cabins, and the other half were to clear the lane. He did not split us into groups so we just divided ourselves between the two.

He did not give the standard health and safety talk or risk assessment instruction that we normally had every day.”

Mr Lowe agreed to act as a banks man – who walks out in front of a vehicle to help with navigation – to a JCB, which was being used to clear the lane. The other men on the team were behind the JCB, shovelling snow that had been moved to the side of the lane by the vehicle. However, this was exposed layers of compacted ice underneath.

“A few of us began to realise the JCB was actually making the situation worse, as the lane was far more slippery and hazardous now that the underlying ice was exposed. The ice was so thick that neither the JCB nor the workers behind it could remove it.

After about 1.5 hours I told the rest of the group that I thought we were just making the situation worse, but most of us had realised this before that time but carried on because the foreman had told us to clear the lane.”

A member of the public from a nearby farmhouse also came out to express his concerns that the team were making things worse so they called back to the office to see whether they could return. The foreman agreed so they started to make their way back to the site.

Mr Lowe only made it a few steps down the road before he slipped and landed on his shoulder. He was helped up by his colleagues and they helped him walk back to the office, where the incident was reported to the health and safety officer.

After this all of the workers went home and Mr Lowe was later taken to hospital by his wife, where he was X-Rayed and sent to the fracture clinic because of severe swelling and pain. A month later he returned to hospital for physiotherapy and was referred to an orthopaedic consultant. Because the consultant had a waiting list of three months and Mr Lowe was still in severe pain – taking pain killers on a daily basis – he paid to see a consultant privately.

Mr Lowe was told that he would need surgery on his shoulder, which happened on 14th May. Between the time of the accident and the date of surgery Mr Lowe was in constant pain and wasn’t fit for work, however, after a call from his manager on the day of the accident, he felt pressured into returning as he was told it would look bad on the company if he was off sick. Mr Lowe agreed to return and was given light tasks to complete in the kitchen.

Since having surgery Mr Lowe has been unable to return to work. The operation slightly improved the movement in his arm but he was told that it will never go back to the way it used to be. Because of the pain and lack of movement he was left unable to drive, relying on his wife to take him everywhere.

Due to the seriousness of the accident and the effort and commitment to the case from Express Solicitor’s Robert Weeden, Mr Lowe claimed compensation for employer’s liability and won £110,000 in compensation.

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