Can no one be trusted to be honest when it comes to injuries?

Industry news roundup: week ended 24 Sept 2012:

This week, it seems like everywhere you turned there was a story about how someone, somewhere was milking personal injury compensation cases as hard as they possibly could.

New research recently revealed that over the course of 2011, more than £5 million was spent by local schools across the UK for personal injury claims made by schoolchildren – but only half of that sum actually went to injured students. The other half went straight into the pockets of personal injury solicitors, sometimes in instances that saw legal fees dwarf actual compensation payments!

The recent survey, which was carried out under a Freedom of Information request, saw that there was a serious disparity amongst payouts made to schoolchildren and the fees their lawyers walked out with. One of the most egregious cases involved a student who injured his finger after getting it trapped in a door, leading to a £3,750 compensation payout for the schoolboy, but resulted in £36,000 in court costs and legal fees paid to the solicitor firm representing the injured student. A ‘good neighbour’ who was nominated for a community award has been branded a ‘liar’ in court after making a false personal injury claim.

The avarice of personal injury lawyers is already legendary, but there’s always the occasional story that also makes you lose faith in humanity as well, such as the story that a man formerly commended by his local authority was caught red-handed in trying to wheedle some cash from the very same council by trumping up a false personal injury claim. Furhan Mustafa was caught in the lie recently by Salford council investigators, resulting in the district judge throwing out his claim for £3,000 – and ordering that he pay the £5,500 the town incurred in legal costs defending the spurious claim.

The worst part about this is that the 22 year old man had become a finalist in the Good Neighbour category for the Be Proud community awards for Manchester council. Originally nominated because of the time he spent working with vulnerable people, Mustafa was even praised in a letter to the Queen by one of the elderly neighbours he helped out.


The dangerous world of injuries in the workplace

Industry news roundup: week ended 17 Sept 2012:

No one ever said that working a regular job was the safest thing to do everyday, but most of the time you should be relatively safe from harm – but accidents still happen, and when they do, they tend to be quite serious!

Recent stories in the news this past week covering accidents were absolutely lousy with news of several instances of personal injury at work. In fact, two of the most high-profile stories were of those particularly gruesome variety – the kind of manufacturing accidents that nearly inevitably lead to work accident claims made by the injured employee and visits from the Health and Safety Executive made to the employer.

In fact, the injuries sustained by Steven Spencer, a thirty six year old agency worker that had been working an East Yorkshire laminating firm, raised eyebrows this week. Mr Spencer ended up getting his hand caught in a laminating machine at Excel Laminating Ltd’s manufacturing plant.

Mr Spencer was feeding paper through the rollers when his hand was dragged into the laminating machine, suffering massive damage to it that required  four day stay in hospital and two surgical procedures to repair the damage to the three fingers which were nearly severed in the incident. Worse yet is that the poor bloke had only been in his third week of work for Excel Laminating!

The HSE was all over the incident, sending inspectors out to the plant and discovering that there were inadequate safety guards on the laminating machine. This led to a £2,000 fine for Excel Laminating after the HSE dragged the company into Hull Magistrates’ Court, though Excel did have the good sense to at least admitting to breaching Health and Safety regulations.

£2,000 is a pretty weighty fine, but it’s nothing compared to the £14,000 in fines another company had to pay after a rather gruesome incident involving one of their employees suffering massive crush injuries from a lorry’s tail lift. The injuries occurred at Don-Bur Bodies & Trailers Ltd’s Stoke-on-Trent manufacturing plant, where a technician was attempting to fit a tuck-way tail lift to a lorry that had been incorrectly wired, resulting in the lift’s accidental activation, crushing Mark Dimmock, the twenty eight year old employee, who had been under the lorry at the time.

Even worse than Mr Spencer, this poor unfortunate soul had only been with his new employer for barely a week at the time of the accident. His injuries were absolutely massive – as can be imagined – and the HSE went after Don-Bur in a big way.

More work accident claims this week as HSE prosecutes 2 firms

Industry news roundup: week ended 10th Sept 2012:

It’s been another bad week for both manufacturing workers and their employers, as two instances of personal injury at work bring massive fines and legal fees to bear on two different companies.

First up, we have a thirty six year old man who lost three of his fingers in an accident involving a forklift truck and a sheet of metal. The man, whose name has not been made known to the press, had been employed by Lancashire engineering firm PRF Engineering, working on manufacturing bicycles and supermarket trolley shelters, at the time of the incident.

The Health and Safety Executive investigated the incident, discovering that the man lost his fingers because of the unsafe methods used by his employers in regards to how the metal sheet was being transported. The HSE took PRF Engineering to Ormskirk Magistrates’ Court for health and safety violations, describing to the court how the injured man was told to place the three metre wide metal sheet down across the forks of the forklift truck and then to stand upon one of the forks while a colleage stood on the other one, balancing it precariously, only to lose the fingers when they slipped within the forklift mechanism as the sheet was being lowered into place.

Lucky for the worker, hospital staff were able to re-attach the missing digits, though it will be some time until he has completely healed. Unfortunately for PRF Engineering, the Skelmersdale-based manufacturer admitted to breaching health and safety violations, earning a £6,000 fine – and more than £5,000 in legal fees as well!

Sometimes you don’t need a piece of incredibly expensive equipment to hurt yourself at work. While crush injuries are quite common, falls from height are doubly so as experienced by Mark Lambton, a fifty year old roof maintenance worker who took a nearly seven metre tumble from the roof of a Darlington domestic residence and suffering life-changing injuries as a result.

J Wilson Home Improvements, a local contractor, had hired Mr Lambton to aid in carrying out roof maintenance to the property to clear the roof of debris. However, the man fell when attempting to scale the gable end of the house by using a set of ladders that had been placed there for that purpose; instead he fell and injured himself so severely that he may have suffered enough brain damage to leave him in a permanent vegetative state.

The HSE went positively wild upon discovering the incident, investigating the accident site and discovering that the work was not being carried out safely and that there had been no safety harness or guarding fitted to prevent falls from the roof. J Wilson Home Improvements’ eponymous owner, James Wilson, was slapped with a £12,000 fine by the local Magistrates’ court after the HSE prosecuted him, throwing in an additional £3,000 in court costs and legal fees for good measure.

HSE out in force this week after spate of work accidents

Industry news roundup: week ended 3rd September 2012:

It seems like it’s been a bad week for firms, with all too many businesses being dragged before the magistrate to settle matters with the Health and Safety Executive after employees suffering personal injury at work.

Most companies both loathe and fear a visit from HSE inspectors, and for good reason – they never seem to show up when things have been going smoothly. This week has been no different, with workers from Nottingham and Hampshire ending up injured, prompting HSE investigations that ultimately led to fines for their employers.

First up we have an unfortunate 49 year old worker that suffered serious injuries to his back and neck after he fell off a roof whilst on the job. The man had been working for Morrison Facilities Service Ltd, a home maintenance company at the time, when he put his hand right through the roof he was working on, plummeting to a concrete floor below – head-first!

The poor man was in hospital for a period of ten days, but his suffering lasted for the next three months, as he couldn’t move about without the aid of a neck and body brace. The HSE prosecuted Morrison Facilities Service for health and safety breaches, resulting in a whopping £18,000 fine – and an extra £5,452 in court costs to boot – all for not taking out a proper risk assessment before undertaking on the roof.

The other worker whose work accident claim made the news last week was a factory worker from Southampton, Nikoloz Demetrashvili, who ended up with his leg trapped within a brick making machine at Michel,ersh Brick and Tile Company Ltd’s Hampshire-based factory. The forty two year old man had just been doing his job by trying  to clear a blockage on one of the brick making machines at the factory, only to trip a sensor on the machine, sending it springing into action and pinning his leg within its workings.

The factory worker faced a three week stay in hospital for his injuries, which included not just crush damage to his trapped leg but multiple fractures as well. There’d be a joke here about ‘sticking your leg in it’ if the man didn’t have to suffer so badly the painful, humiliating injury, but the HSE stepped in and promptly slapped the brick maker with a notice to improve the machine’s safety measures.

The firm complied by making access to the machine’s inner workings impossible without deactivating the leg-breaking apparatus completely. Of course, doing so is a bit like closing the barn door after the horses have already escaped, so the HSE also dragged Michelmersh into court, with the results being nearly £20,000 in fines and court costs combined.