An apprentice was forced to give up his dream of becoming an electrician after he damaged his back in a workplace accident. 

Martin Gill, 24, from Darlington was off work for a year after he seriously injured his back while working for Anderson Electrics in 2007.

At the time of the accident he was just six months away from completing his apprenticeship at Darlington Technological College.

By the time Martin was fit enough to return to work his employer had gone into administration and the course he had been on was no longer running and had been replaced by a new apprenticeship.

Injury had a profound effect on life

Martin has been told that if he wants to fully qualify as an electrician he must begin the four year apprenticeship all over again and that would mean a full year out of the workplace when he would have no salary and would have to fund his course.

Martin, who is now working as a bookmaker for Ladbrokes cannot afford to fund his way through college again and knows that even if he did have the money the current financial climate means it is difficult for trainees to find apprentice positions.

He said: “This injury has had a profound effect on my life. I was just six months away from becoming a qualified electrician and now I have had that taken away from me unless I am prepared to start back at the beginning again. The timing of my injury couldn’t have been any worse. Financially it is impossible for me to go through another four years of college.”

Not provided with any manual handling training

Martin damaged his back when he was installing a transformer at Taylor Woodrow in Leeds. He had to carry the equipment from the front of a fork lift truck up onto a mezzanine level. 

As he lifted it he strained his lower back. He had never been given any manual handling training by his employers.

Following his injury he contacted Thompsons Solicitors to pursue compensation. 

Thompsons argued that a risk assessment should have taken place before Martin lifted the equipment. 

Anderson Electrics did not admit liability but settled the claim out of court.

Diane Davison from Thompsons Solicitors said: “A young man who had studied for years and was within a few months of a new career has had the chance taken away from him. The accident could have been avoided had the employers undertaken basic health and safety steps like carrying out an adequate risk assessment.”