An engineer took a substantial pay cut after he damaged his back at work has received compensation. 

Mr Hughes, 30, from Telford in Shropshire felt he had no choice but to find a new job after the workplace accident in March 2008.

He damaged muscles in his lower back when he slipped on spilt coolant while moving a heavy drum full of scrap metal.

He has been left unable to move large weights so had to give up working in the well-paid aerospace industry, where the parts he was making were often over 35 kilos. He now works in small components, which pays less but does not hurt his back.

Slipped on Spillage

Mr Hughes fell after he arrived at his shift at Magellan Aerospace in Wrexham to find that the waste metal bin at his work station hadn't been emptied by the previous shift. 

There was only one labourer in the factory and he was busy elsewhere so Mr Hughes had to empty the bin himself. It took him three trips dragging a metal drum to a mini skip and on his third trip he slipped on coolant which had leaked from a machine during the earlier shift. 

Mr Hughes landed on his back, crushing a muscle near his spine. He had to take four weeks off work and can no longer lift heavy items.

Before the accident Mr Hughes had asked his bosses to change the system of emptying the waste bins by attaching wheels to the drums to allow them to be moved more easily. He had also raised concerns about the number of machines which leaked coolant and the lack of sawdust or sand to soak up the spillages. 

Neither recommendation was taken up.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

Following the accident he instructed Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation. He wanted the firm to take notice of its health and safety obligations. 

Magellan Aerospace did not admit liability but settled the claim out of court for £5,500.

Mr Hughes, who chose to resign from his job because of the heavy lifting involved, said: "I have had to take a significant pay cut as a result of this accident because I can no longer work with large components. I wanted my old employers to pay more attention to health and safety and felt the only way to do that was by making a claim."

Sarah Wilkinson from Thompsons Solicitors added: "This employer turned a blind eye to simple health and safety measures which would not only have made the workplace much safer but also much more efficient."