A catering assistant has received a £42,000 settlement after an accident at work caused physical and psychological damage that forced her into early retirement.

The woman was checking the temperature of a fridge in a Sainsbury’s supermarket kitchen in Bristol when the accident happened. As she pulled open one of the fridge doors, the top hinge snapped and the corner of the metal door hit her face, lacerating her nose.

She was initially checked over by first-aid staff before visiting her GP, who referred her to hospital. It was discovered that as well as the laceration, the force of the door hitting her had dislocated her nose, obstructing airflow in her left nostril.

The woman has not been able to return to work and she retired six months after the accident.

She has had two operations to trim cartilage from her nose, but she continues to find breathing difficult and has suffered a partial loss to her sense of smell. As a result of the accident, she has also developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

After her accident, she contacted accident at work specialists, Thompsons Solicitors, to investigate a compensation claim. Thompsons’ investigations found that other colleagues had encountered similar problems when trying to open the fridge doors.

The woman said: “Checking the temperature of the fridges was a daily task, so to suffer such injuries and lose my job because of something so routine is extremely frustrating. I only found out afterwards that other people had worked in pairs to make sure the heavy doors didn’t come completely off their hinges.

“I’ve had two rounds of surgery to improve my breathing but it’s still not back to how it was – I feel like I’ve constantly got a cold. It’s really knocked the confidence out of me but thankfully I was able to recoup my financial losses and make sure my employer was held responsible with support from Thompsons.”

David Coulthard, of Thompsons Solicitors, said: “This unfortunate accident highlights how any workplace can be dangerous if business owners don’t follow procedure. There really is no excuse, especially for a national supermarket chain like Sainsbury’s, to not provide a safe place of work for employees or address recurring issues with work equipment.

“Five years on our client is still feeling the effects of this accident both physically and psychologically, with no certainty that her breathing problems will improve.”