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Compensation for injured harbourmaster

PUBLISHED: 17:05 20 November 2008 | UPDATED: 07:47 01 August 2010

A FORMER Beccles harbour master has won £6,000 compensation from Waveney District Council for an injury he received while working at Southwold.

His union UNISON took up the

case for Mike Leggett, who was harbour master at Beccles Quay

for many years, and won an out-of-court settlement for him after he received a serious injury to his back through slipping on dangerous stairs that staff had complained about for years.

A FORMER Beccles harbour master has won £6,000 compensation from Waveney District Council for an injury he received while working at Southwold.

His union UNISON took up the

case for Mike Leggett, who was harbour master at Beccles Quay

for many years, and won an out-of-court settlement for him after he received a serious injury to his back through slipping on dangerous stairs that staff had complained about for years.

Mr Leggett, 58, who lives in the town, worked as a harbour master for Waveney for 21 years in all.

While working at Southwold harbour, he went outside to

throw away a carton of milk and fell

on stairs that were slimy from decades of exposure to the sea. The stairs

did not have any tread and the handrail had been removed when a colleague fell on it, causing it to give way.

He was forced to take six weeks off work and was later told that his injury exacerbated the onset of arthritis by two years. He returned to work, but decided to take early retirement after it became clear his back was causing him too much pain to continue in his job.

Mr Leggett said this week: “My colleagues and I had reported

our concerns about the stairs to Waveney District Council several times over about four or five years but they did nothing to make them safer. I decided to pursue compensation because I felt strongly that the council had been negligent towards its employees.

“This injury meant I had to leave the job I loved earlier than I would have liked and I wanted to make sure that none of my colleagues suffered the same fate.”

UNISON regional secretary, Greg Grant, said: “Slips and trips are the single most common cause of injury in UK workplaces. Avoiding falls should be a major priority for employers and their health and safety advisors.

“It should never have taken an accident like this to make the council take action and remove the stairs. They should be doing all they can to protect the health and safety of their staff.”

Client representative at Thompson's Solicitors, Jyothi Bhurjee, who took the case for UNISON said: “The council failed to ensure adequate precautions were taken to avoid this accident. Mr Leggett has sustained injuries to his back and as a result

can no longer work as a harbour master - a job he got great satisfaction from.”

A Waveney spokesman said yesterday: “Waveney District

Council takes the health and safety

of its staff very seriously and

employs a dedicated full-time officer with specific responsibility in

this area. In this instance the council was aware of the issue with this particular staircase and had taken clear remedial action prior to the incident.

“Nevertheless, we feel it would not be in the public interest to pursue this matter through the courts and have taken a pragmatic decision to settle out of court, avoiding the potential for considerable costs at the taxpayers' expense.”

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