Justice For Woman Left Scarred For Life After Slipping At Work

Expert Work Injury Lawyers Help Former Intake Woman Access Rehabilitation


A woman who has to endure a painful metal frame in her foot for the rest of her life after suffering a torn ligament in her ankle when she slipped on a loose wooden pallet at work is finally regaining her independence after receiving access to intensive rehabilitation.

Katrin Weiss was working as an operations manager for Rotherham-based window frame and door manufacturer Bereco Ltd at the time of the February 2011 incident. She had been asked to stay late to ensure a delivery was dispatched on time and to cover the role of her colleague, who was absent with an illness.

Specialist workplace injury lawyers at law firm Irwin Mitchell have now secured a £30,000 settlement for Katrin, who lived in the Intake area of Sheffield at the time, as her injury left her unable to work for over a year and has still not healed despite physiotherapy and several painful operations.

The surgery has left Katrin, who now lives in Kirchheim, Germany, with a five-and-a-half inch scar on her ankle and a metal frame inside her foot which doctors say could lead to her suffering from a degenerative form of arthritis in the future.

Before Katrin’s fall, several packed pallets for delivery had been loaded on to a lorry, but a few loose bundles of handles and frames remained. In order to reach the final bags, Katrin had to climb over another pallet which was covered by a sheet of plywood, concealing the frame’s edges.

After collecting the remaining items, the 36-year-old began to climb down off the pallet but slipped and fell, heavily twisting one ankle and tearing the ligaments in the other.
She said: “I couldn’t see where the pallet actually ended, so when I stepped on the end of the plywood it just gave way and I crashed to the floor.

“The pain was absolutely excruciating. Thankfully the driver of the lorry heard me screaming, and came to help before rushing me off to Northern General Hospital where I was told I’d torn the ligaments in my ankle and would have to have an operation.”

Surgeons fixed two screws into Katrin’s ankle, but the ligaments didn’t heal and two further operations were needed over the next 12 months in an attempt to mend the joint, eventually resulting in a metal ‘stabilising hook’ being inserted in December 2011.

The operations meant Katrin couldn’t get out and about on her own and she relied on her partner, Michael, to help her with everything from washing, moving around her house and getting dressed.

Katrin moved back to her home town in Germany in August 2011, but she was unable to find work again until April 2012 because of her injuries.

She added: “I was off work for 14 months and spent a lot of that time in pain and discomfort. Being unable to get around and do things for myself was so frustrating, and really got me down.

“My ankle has improved a lot since the last surgery, but it still swells up and feels sore when I walk on uneven ground. It hurts every day, but it’s still a relief to be at this stage compared to where I was a year ago.”

Sally Rissbrook, a workplace injury expert at law firm Irwin Mitchell’s Sheffield office, said: “Katrin was injured after having been asked to help out to cover someone else’s job that she wasn’t trained for.
“She had never received any formal health and safety training or guidance about how to do the job safely and was not made aware of any risks related to the work besides a general ‘be careful’ from her health and safety officer.
“Katrin’s colleague would have known the dangers of climbing on the pallet, and would have known the correct procedures for loading the lorry – information which was not passed on to Katrin.
“Thankfully, Bereco admitted liability for Katrin’s injuries after an internal investigation and the settlement has been agreed, meaning she can put the incident behind her and move on with her life in Germany.
“We hope that this case brings the importance of good health and safety practices in the workplace to the attention of employers. A lack of regulations in this area can lead to serious accidents and long-term injuries, which can have a huge negative effect on both the company and the life of the individual involved.”