Green jobs can hurt just the same

Green jobs can be indistinguishable from their traditional counterparts, particularly if you are on the receiving end of bad management, as injured workers can attest.

Unite member Stanley Gibbons, 66, a fitter working for a metals recycling firm, was left with a damaged left shoulder after being forced to carry out heavy manual work despite warning his employer he suffered from a frozen shoulder, a condition which leaves the shoulder painful and stiff.

After the warnings Mr Gibbons damaged his shoulder during two separate incidents in May and June 2005 when he was involved in work with heavy machinery in his job for European Metal Recycling Ltd (EMRL) in Dagenham. After the second injury Mr Gibbons was forced to retire on medical grounds. He can no longer play golf or do anything that needs the use of both his arms.

In a Unite-backed compensation claim, lawyers successfully argued that Mr Gibbons should have been placed on light duties after suffering from a frozen shoulder in 2004. EMRL admitted liability and settled the claim out of court for £57,000.

Mr Gibbons said: “I had told my employer about my frozen shoulder but I was never given the option of working on light duties. My workload remained the same as it always had been but my shoulder wasn’t up to it.” He added: “I decided to pursue compensation because I had missed out on three years of income and pension.”

Unite regional secretary Steve Hart commented: “Employers need to make sure that where heavy lifting work is involved that their employees are physically fit enough to cope with the demands of the job. Mr Gibbon’s frozen shoulder meant he wasn’t up to the job and when he told his employer about his injury he should have been given a role that was less demanding but, in fact he was ignored.”

UNISON member Alan Shambrook, 55, tripped on a raised paving slab in July 2005, while working for Stevenage Borough Council. The council refuse worker was collecting recycling boxes when he fell badly on his left knee, shoulder and elbow. He had to have two operations on his shoulder, take 15 months off work and has been left unable to do a number of activities, including heavy lifting and swimming.

The grandfather was awarded compensation from Hertfordshire County Council at Luton Crown Court.

Mr Shambrook said the “extremely painful” injury has changed his life dramatically, adding: “I also had to stop my recycling duties and take a lesser-paid job driving a road sweeper, which has hit me financially.”

UNISON regional secretary Greg Grant said: “This accident could so easily have been prevented. Sadly, he will continue to suffer as he is unable to do things he took for granted before, like playing with his grandson. And he has been forced to take a job that pays him less.”

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