Swissport Baggage Handler Wins Long Battle For Compensation

A baggage handler who broke his back in an accident at Stansted Airport has won compensation through his union.

Mick Draper, 68, from Braintree, who worked for air cargo company Swissport for 10 years, was left with life-changing injuries after the accident in March 2009.

The grandfather of two was hurt after the driver of a buggy crashed into the luggage trolley he was working on, sending him flying backwards and leaving him with three broken bones in his back.

"He smashed right into the side of the trolley," said Mr Draper, "It threw me about five feet in the air and I ended up hitting my back on the bottom of the luggage chute."

It took 18 months for his broken back to be diagnosed, before he underwent a five-hour operation to put three screws in place.

But after three years of suffering agony and receiving no income, he has won monthly payments to help him with his costs of living.

The payments were secured by the Unite Union and Thompsons Solicitors. Mr Draper said: "The only good outcome is that I was a member of the union and they made me apply for industrial injury benefit. Without them I would be lost.

"It was a relief because, although it's actually a trivial amount compared to what you see other people pick up, I wasn't eligible for benefits given I have a military pension.

"At least now we can cover one of the bills each month because I used up all my retirement savings during these last three years."

Mr Draper is most concerned about being unable to live an active life. He said: "My hobby was shooting but I had to pack that in."

Peter Kavanagh, from Unite the Union, said: "This member has been left disabled by an accident which could have been easily avoided.

"Swissport only needed to ensure staff were not working excessive hours and the health and safety of the workforce would not have been put at risk."

"This is a success for Unite Legal Services."

A Swissport spokesman said it was committed to the highest standards of health and safety. He said: "In 2012 Swissport reported that the number of safety incidents had reduced by 33 per cent.

"It is not the policy of Swissport to comment on individual cases.

"Swissport is constantly reviewing health and safety procedures and is committed to ensuring that all colleagues return home safely."

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