Decorator who seriously injured foot in fall at work receives settlement

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Decorator who seriously injured foot in fall at work receives settlement

28th June 2012

An Essex man who will need to have his heel reconstructed after a rotten scaffolding board collapsed beneath him has received £75,000 in an out of court settlement.

Larry Shaw, a workplace accident specialist with Fentons Solicitors LLP, said his client, who is a self-employed painter and decorator, had been contracted by an architectural firm to decorate a South London fire station when the incident occurred last year.

“My client had been working on site at the fire station for six weeks and had already completed one of the two fireman’s ‘hatches’ he had been tasked with decorating,” said Larry, a legal executive at the firm. “My client had finished work on the first of the hatches, which are very similar to lift shafts, but when he spotted an area of ceiling above the second hatch that needed touching up he realised the job could not be finished without using scaffolding and boards.”

The claimant, who was in his 50s at the time, spoke to his manager and requested the scaffolding boards, but when they arrived they were wet and not in the best condition.

“Having worked at the same company for a number of years without ever experiencing any problems with safety issues, he trusted the boards would be suitable for the job at hand and not in any way dangerous,” said Larry. “But as he stood on one of the boards to paint the ceiling with a long-handled brush, he heard a loud crack. The next thing he knew he had fallen some 15 feet and was lying on the ground in considerable pain.”

Although the claimant was fortunate to land on a sponge impact mat he suffered multiple fractures to his heel bone. After a brief stay in hospital, he had to spend the next 12 weeks at home with his foot in plaster and reliant on his wife and daughter to help with his dressing, bathing and preparing meals. This was followed by a further 12 weeks recovering, during which time he was unable to work.

Larry said that immediately after the incident, his client’s contracting firm discussed offering the man £10,000 in full and final compensation for his injuries before any kind of investigation had taken place into how the incident was even allowed to happen.

“When my client rightly turned the offer down, the defendant’s insurers refused to concede liability for months before then suggesting that he was somehow responsible for his injuries, claiming he should have doubled up the scaffolding boards he had been stood on,” said Larry. “We refuted this allegation and showed that the boards he had been supplied with were sub-standard and that a single wooden scaffolding board should in normal circumstances be perfectly capable of withstanding weights of up to 20 stone.”

Following the incident the company changed its working practices and replaced its wooden scaffolding boards with metal tread-plates.

“My client had no way of knowing the boards he was provided with were defective and would not take his weight and he did absolutely nothing wrong by using them,” said Larry. “The fact is, his employers did not properly risk-assess the job they gave him nor did they ensure the equipment they supplied him with was fit for purpose. As a result, he now struggles to stand without pain for prolonged periods of time, he will require reconstructive surgery to fuse the joint in his heel in the next five years and he is likely to suffer from early-stage arthritis.”

Larry settled the claim on behalf of his client for £75,000 in April 2012.

How can Fentons Solicitors help?

Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for victims of accidents in the workplace.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire