Search

£6,000 compensation for harbour master

PUBLISHED: 18:54 19 November 2008 | UPDATED: 21:50 05 July 2010

UNISON, the UK's largest public sector trade union, has secured £6,000 compensation for a harbour master who had to take early retirement after seriously injuring his back through slipping on dangerous stairs that staff had complained about for years.

UNISON, the UK's largest public sector trade union, has secured £6,000 compensation for a harbour master who had to take early retirement after seriously injuring his back through slipping on dangerous stairs that staff had complained about for years.

Michael Leggett, 58, from Beccles, worked as a harbour master for Waveney District Council for 21 years.

While working at Southwold Harbour, he went outside to throw away a carton of milk and fell on stairs that were slimy from decades of exposure to the sea. The stairs did not have any tread and the handrail had been removed when a colleague fell on it, causing it to give way.

Mr Leggett took six weeks off work and was later told that his injury exacerbated onset arthritis by two years. He returned to work, but decided to take early retirement after it became clear his back was causing him too much pain to continue in his job.

Commenting on his case, Mr Leggett said: “My colleagues and I had reported our concerns about the stairs to Waveney District Council several times over about four or five years but they did nothing to make them safer. I decided to pursue compensation because I felt strongly that the council had been negligent towards its employees.

“This injury meant I had to leave the job I loved earlier than I would have liked and I wanted to make sure that none of my colleagues suffered the same fate.”

A spokesperson for Waveney District Council said: "The council takes the health and safety of its staff very seriously and employs a dedicated full-time officer with specific responsibility in this area. In this instance the council was aware of the issue with this particular staircase and had taken clear remedial action prior to the incident.

"Nevertheless, we feel it would not be in the public interest to pursue this matter through the courts and have taken a pragmatic decision to settle out of court, avoiding the potential for considerable costs at the taxpayers expense."

UNISON regional secretary, Greg Grant, said: “Slips and trips are the single most common cause of injury in UK workplaces. Avoiding falls should be a major priority for employers and their health and safety advisors.

“It should never have taken an accident like this to make the council take action and remove the stairs. They should be doing all they can to protect the health and safety of their staff.”

Client representative at Thompson's Solicitors, who took the case for UNISON, Jyothi Bhurjee said: “The council failed to ensure adequate precautions were taken to avoid this accident. Mr Leggett has sustained injuries to his back and as a result can no longer work as a harbour master - a job he got great satisfaction from.”

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Lowestoft Journal

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists