A FARMER’S wife will receive a £25,000 pay-out from the Health & Safety Executive after falling down a hole while attending a safety awareness day.
Tania Foster’s right leg was permanently damaged after she fell into an uncovered drain at an HSE workshop at Churton, advising 200 agricultural workers how to avoid accidents.
Mrs Foster, of Brook Farm, Capenhurst, was to sue the HSE for pain, suffering and loss of amenity at Chester County Court.
But at the 11th hour the HSE – which does not accept liability – offered Mrs Foster about £25,000 and will pick up another £25,000 in legal costs.
Mrs Foster said: “I really don’t think tha, for a permanent injury, that whatever I came out with at the end of the day, is actual compensation for that.”
Mrs Foster was part of a ‘tightly-packed’ group and in conversation with an HSE inspector when she was guided to a ‘use of ladders’ demonstration where she fell down the drain.
She remains on painkillers and must wear an ankle brace 24 hours a day after damaging her Achilles and metatarsal tendons.
“It’s painful but I have still got to get on with my job. My animals still need looking after so you just get on with it.”
Mrs Foster said at the time that for an apology and a bunch of flowers she would have let the matter lie but was incensed by the attitude of the HSE’s lawyers.
Solicitor Michael Atkins told her in a letter: “I regret to conclude you were the author of your own misfortune and the HSE cannot admit liability for your actions and their results”.
The mother-of-two, who farms with husband Gary, added: “I will never be able to play tennis again. It’s only a little thing but my kids are both good tennis players and I can’t play with them.”
Tanya Stewart, HSE Principal Inspector, said: “Health and Safety Executive has settled this matter out of court, on the agreement that we do not accept liability.
“Our preparation for the farming event at which the incident took place, included a risk assessment of the farm site and three visits by a Health and Safety Awareness Officer. The drainage hole is a common feature of working farms and as such, preventative action was not considered necessary at the time for an event which was designed for farmers, farm workers and farming families.”