Good luck not getting injured on the job in the UK

Industry news roundup: week ended 25 Feb 2013:

Whether you’re on the job at a worksite or you’re just going about your duties in a factory setting, it seems as if you’re almost guaranteed to hurt yourself!

It’s been horrid for UK workers, as reports just seem to keep rolling in about the newest gruesome and painful injuries we inflict on ourselves during the course of work. If you ask me, employers play a big role in cases of personal injury at work, and judging by these two newest stories, the courts seem to agree with me!

First there was the story of a carpenter falling through a skylight opening and cracking his skull open as he worked on a building in Surrey, which led to the Health and Safety Executive fining the man’s employer and will probably lead to a costly personal injury compensation claim against the firm as well.

The twenty one year old that fell through the skylight and nearly dashed his brains out on the floor nearly three metres below, whose name has not been made known to the public, had been working for Horley-based D&R Carpentry Ltd at the time of the accident. The HSE’s investigation into the incident found that the company had already been warned about the dangers of falls from height at other construction sites, but despite the fact that they had received a prohibition notice in the past the carpentry firm made no efforts to put any sort of safety measures in place for their workers; the HSE naturally took a bit of a dim view of that, dragging D&R Carpentry into Staines Magistrates’ Court and prosecuting the pants off of them.

Of course you don’t have to be up on a roof to end up injured, as this next story proves: one Northamptonshire-based sweet factory worker ended up having his hand crushed within a sweet making machine, leading to the HSE prosecuting the injured worker’s employer as well. Another unnamed employee, this time twenty eight years old, had been attempting to remove a blockage from the machine in the course of his duties at the Tilley’s Sweets Thrapston plant, only to have his glove become entangled in the machinery, dragging his right hand deep into the machine.

The man’s injuries were so severe that he had to go through a number of surgical procedures to cobble his ruined hand back into some semblance of functionality. He’s still going to physiotherapy in order to re-learn how to use his once-mangled hand, and ended up missing four months of work due to the injury.

The HSE had heard quite enough at this point, slapping the sweet factory with a prohibition order that required them to actually stop what they were doing and take steps to make their machinery safer. On top of that, the HSE prosecuted them in court, fining Tilley’s Sweets £1,500 and doubtlessly helping to build a case for the injure worker’s work accident claim against his employer.

Farm working is for the birds for one employee

Industry news roundup: week ended 18 Feb 2013:

Not everyone can say that they truly love what they do for a living – in fact you might even say your job is ‘for the birds’ – kind of like this one poor bloke.

I don’t mean to be flippant, or to minimise this poor man’s pain, but you really can’t make news stories like this up: a twenty nine year old farm worker ended up in some serious pain when a malfunctioning bird feeder ended up mangling his hand while he tried to clear a blockage. The farmhand, Luke Parker, suffered some very serious injuries to the back of his hand, including a laceration that severed tendons and nerves and has left him even to this day with limited movement in the hand and still suffering from pain.

According to the personal injury claims heard in Ipswich Magistrates’ Court, Mr Parker had discovered the issue whilst collecting eggs during the course of his work at Green Label Farms, in Woodbridge. He had been specifically at the Meldesham site of Cherry Gate Farm at the time that he noticed that one of the automated lines that provided bird feed had stopped working as it should because a sensor had been blocked by surplus grain – something that happened quite often, according to Mr Parker’s testimony.

Now, stop me if you’ve heard this one before: guess what happened to poor Mr Parker after he began clearing the blockage? If you said ‘I’ll wager his sleeve got caught in the machine as it started back up after he uncovered the sensor,’  you would be correct  and I would be around 20 quid.

Normally, a situation like  this would lead to a massive personal injury compensation award for Mr Parker. However, the Health and Safety Executive got involved, and you and I both know what that means: massive fines for Mr Parker’s employers.

HSE inspectors swarmed the accident site, going over the whole thing with a fine-toothed comb. Investigators found that – surprise surprise – the farm had not placed a safe system of working in the event that there was a blockage that needed to be dealt with, even though these types of blockages happened all the time, and that there had been no provisions put in place to prevent inadvertent machine start ups such as locking the machine, isolating it, or perhaps even shutting the damned thing off for five minutes while some hapless farm worker put his hand inside to clear the bird feed.

For their supreme lack of foresight, Green Labels Farm was slapped with a £5,000 fine after coming clean about breaching Health and Safety rules. Serves them right, if you ask me.

HSE prosecutes theme park after worker injury


The Health and Safety Executive has prosecuted the Legoland theme park after a repair job on a roller coaster went terribly wrong for one of its employees.

The park, located in Berkshire, had been undergoing maintenance on the ‘Dragon Coaster’ ride in order to remove two coaster trains that had become damaged and that were in need of repair. However, during the procedure a forty two year old employee – whose identity has not been made known to the press – fell from a height of more than three metres as he stepped on to an improperly secured walkway section that had recently been replaced, according to the man’s personal injury claims.

The personal injury at work the employee sustained included several broken ribs and a broken shoulder. However, the man has since been able to once more return to work after recovering from his injuries, say his personal injury lawyers. While the worker recovered, his employers were not so lucky, as the HSE conducted an investigation that discovered that the theme park had indeed had a risk assessment undertaken on the repair work – a risk assessment that found it necessary to have maintenance workers wearing safety harnesses and lanyards – but that the company did not follow through on the risk assessment.

The HSE took a bit of a dim view of Merlin Attractions Operations, the owners of the Legoland park, in not complying with health and safety regulations. A company spokesman spoke out in protest against what Merlin Attractions characterised as a ‘wholly unjustified’ prosecution, adding that the watchdog agency neglected to take Legoland’s otherwise excellent safety record into account, yet this didn’t stop the company from eventually entering a guilty plea in the hearing – resulting in a £23,200 fine.

Paralysed mother wins multiple million pound compensation

Industry news roundup: week ended 4 Feb 2013:

A personal injury compensation award in the millions of pounds has been awarded to one mother who ended up with paralysis from the waist down after surgery.

Hazel Spence, a thirty five year old former beauty therapist and mother of two from Bilston that was a kick boxer in her teens, had been admitted to Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital for what was supposed to have been a routine surgical procedure to excise a cyst that had been discovered between her shoulder blades. The surgery itself had been a success, but the actions of a junior doctor just two days afterwards left her paralysed when he decided to flush clear the drain that had been surgically implanted into her lower back in order to provide any excess fluid a way to be removed.

The doctor, who thought that the drain had become blocked, caused damage to the woman’s spinal cord as he forced fluid into the drain. As a result, Ms Spence now has no feeling from below the waist and can no longer move her legs due to the irreparable harm caused by the incorrect follow-up procedure and has left her trapped in a wheelchair, prompting her to launch a medical negligence claim against the NHS Trust managing the hospital. 

The University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust has since capitulated to the demands of Ms Spence’s personal injury lawyers in that she has been awarded a compensation award that, while it has not been specified, is understood o be worth well over one million pounds. The funds will go towards not just purchasing the special equipment that the woman needs to provide for her long-term care needs but also to relocate both herself and her family to a specially adapted house that will fit her needs for wheelchair accessibility.

No word on what happened to the junior doctor that botched the operation. Hopefully he’ll be cleaning out bedpans for the rest of his tenure as a medical ‘professional.’