Fall Cuts Short GMB Member’s Career

14 Apr 2013

A civilian police worker had to retire early after injuring his back when he fell down a flight of stairs. The 61-year-old GMB member badly injured his back in the fall at West Yorkshire Police headquarters in Wakefield in November 2008. The maintenance officer, whose name has not been released, was walking down the concrete stairs to the basement when he slipped and fell a full flight, hitting his head against the wall. The stairs had no handrail. He strained his back, bringing on degenerative changes by two years and forcing him to take eight months off work. Although he returned on light duties, the continued pain prevented him from lifting and he eventually had to give up work. West Yorkshire Police denied liability.

The case was heard at Leeds County Court where the judge ruled the incident had been caused by the absence of a hand rail. He added that the GMB member’s retirement was brought forward by six months as a result of his injuries. He was awarded £17,000 in compensation.

Tim Roache from the GMB commented: ‘A simple risk assessment would have established that these steps should not have been in use without a handrail. The installation of a handrail - something employers must do by law - would have given this member something to steady himself and prevented the fall.’ Stephen Woolford from Thompsons Solicitors, the law firm brought in by GMB to act in the case, said: ‘This accident proves that the regulations the government loves to attack are not just red tape but are a practical common sense approach to avoiding accidents in the workplace. Implementing them would have been a lot cheaper for the West Yorkshire Police than paying compensation to an injured worker.’