Fatal workplace injury figures improve, injuries continue

Industry news roundup: week ended 28 Oct 2013:

The Health and Safety Executive might have said that the number of fatal instances of personal injury at work may be on the decline, but injuries still happen.

So here’s the good news: there were 18 per cent fewer fatalities in the UK during the 2011-2012 year when held up against the national five-year average. When you get down to brass tacks, the figure stood at 148 Brits that tragically lost their lives at work, still high but a far cry from the average of 181. That’s 33 fewer lives that were cut short last year, and I’m very gratified to learn about that particular statistic this week!

While it seems on the face of it that work conditions for Brits are getting relatively safer, there are still plenty of injuries that occur at work that don’t result in fatalities. In fact, one particularly noteworthy work accident claim was made recently after a trainee prison guard at Featherstone jail was left with long-lasting injuries after a ‘control and restraint’ technique went awry.

The 35 year old man – whose name has not been made known to the public – sustained enough damage to his right wrist that surgical correction was deemed necessary by his doctors. Even with the surgical procedure, the poor man still has marked difficulties in undertaking everyday tasks.

Is it just me or does it seem like every time we take two steps forward when it comes to making the British workplace safer, we take one step backwards? I mean don’t get me wrong – I’m absolutely thrilled to discover that the fatality rate has dropped by such a significant margin – but what in the world is going on in these training exercises that a trainee ends up injured so severely that he has permanent nerve damage to his wrist? Is this the kinds of standard operating procedure that correctional facilities in the UK have adopted?

I’m not going to sit here and say that we should be treating those convicted of offences with gentleness, but if a prison trainee was injured this badly – ostensibly in a situation where his instructors were simply trying to demonstrate a technique for restraining unruly inmates without causing permanent harm – can you imagine what kind of things are going on behind closed doors? Honestly it makes me a bit sick to think about.

Working with your hands is dangerous nowadays

Industry news roundup: week ended 30 Sept 2013:

No one ever said that it would be busy earning a living with your hands, but it’s downright dangerous to your health as well!

Personal injury at work is a major issue when it comes to nearly every form of employment, but manual labourers and craftsmen bear the brunt of the danger. It’s all too common to hear about hellish injuries suffered by employees that prompt them to make work accident claims – like the injury that Patrick Meek suffered, sending him on a nightmarish odyssey that only recently was resolved.

The 60 year old Cinderford native, employed as a joiner, lost his finger in a work accident when the nail he fired from the nail gun he was using to create pallets several years ago ricocheted upon hitting a wood knot, impaling his index finger and sending him to hospital. Mr Meek ended up suffering complications three months afterwards, and while doctors worked feverishly to remedy the issue, he ultimately lost the finger – ending his career as a joiner.

Mr Meeks sought legal advice and enlisted the aid of a talented team of personal injury solicitors who brought him some closure. While his employer initially refused to accept liability for the incident, after a court battle the company has since changed its tune, awarding the injured man some well-deserved personal injury compensation.

As terrible as Mr Meeks’ story is, it could have been much worse – luckily he wasn’t mortally wounded. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for farm workers in Northern Ireland, as the Health and Safety Executive revealed that farm accidents in NI are hands-down the most dangerously fatal.

There were some 19 fatalities due to industrial accidents in 2012, the HSE reported recently. Out of those 19, 11 of them were farming accidents. The trend seems to be growing as well, considering how the year before, where there were 18 workplace fatalities – nine of which came from the farming industry.

For what it’s worth, farm owners in Northern Ireland obviously have to institute better working conditions in their facilities. 20 people have lost their lives in two years – that’s absolutely horrid! What’s wrong with these people that they can’t make farming a safer line of work for their employees? If nothing else, think of the potential savings when it comes to legal fees – defending a personal injury claim brought against you isn’t exactly a cheap proposition, you know!

Sometimes it doesn’t pay to go off to work in the morning

Industry news roundup: week ended 29 July 2013:

Everyone’s had days where they would rather stay in bed instead of going to work, as these two blokes that got injured on the job recently can attest to.

First up the unfortunate tale of a very unlucky brewery worker that ended up a few fingers short after a run-in with a faulty grain dust extractor. The poor man had been busy trying to clear a blockage on the extractor by hand, but as he reached deep into the machine’s chute the rotary valve inside made short work of his index and middle fingers.

Poor bastard needed five surgeries to repair his hand. On top of that, the Health and Safety Executive found out that the brewery’s owners, Hall & Woodhouse Ltd, had somehow neglected to place any arrangements in place for employees to clean out the piece of machinery besides, you know, sticking your hand in.

I swear it’s like employers have their heads up their arses when it comes to employee safety. This poor man should get the biggest, meanest personal injury solicitor he can find and he should sue the pants off his employer; I’ll wager that will be the last time that brewery looks at safety issues the same way!

Meanwhile, this isn’t just an isolated incident. Another story I read recently recounted how another food industry worker – this time the health and safety manager for a Lincolnshire frozen potato product manufacturer, ironically enough – ended up showered with scalding hot 160-degree oil because he inadvertently knocked into a pipe as he was keeping an eye on an unrelated procedure.

62 year old Harvey Hopwood, an employee of PAS (Grantham) Ltd, was simply making sure the lads were jet washing the facility’s oil storage tank properly when the incident occurred, which left him with 10 per cent burns over his upper body. Poor Mr Hopwood was laid up for a month before eventually having to leave the company due to his injuries, which occurred because the pressure valve of the pipe he came into contact with fell right off.

This is another case where I hope Mr Hopwood has a very aggressive injury solicitor working for him. I can’t imagine the pain, suffering, and indignity of having to be showered with boiling hot oil because my employer is too lazy to ensure that all the pressure valves at their facility are secure and working properly!

Injury claims a-plenty predicted for two manufacturers

Industry news roundup: week ended 22 July 2013:

Some days it just doesn’t pay to get out of bed: not one but two manufacturers are likely facing costly injury claims after serious work injuries.

It’s gruesome and nobody wants to think about it – especially me – but manufacturing workers are often the recipient of some of the worst incidents of personal injury at work out there. Yes, construction workers often suffer nasty falls from height, and we can’t discount the type of injury an office worker can get if he or she slips and falls on the job, but by and large the worst and most painful injuries often occur to these poor blokes who work in manufacturing roles.

I mean, did you hear the story of Michael Taylor? The man was working for The Paper Pallet Company when his hand was pulled into a laminating machine. If you don’t have any idea what these machines do, they have two massive rollers designed to glue things together, and that’s where Michael’s and and arm ended up getting sucked into.

The poor man’s injuries were absolutely dreadful. In fact it took a total of four surgical procedures to get his hand back into some semblance of working order, and he still needs physiotherapy; even in the face of all that work, his doctors say there’s a good chance he may not regain the full use of his arm even after all that effort.

On top of that, it turns out the laminating machine wasn’t guarded properly, which spells bad, bad news for Michael’s employers. This sets up a situation where Michael can bring a personal injury claim against The Paper Pallet Company, and let’s be honest: he probably deserves every single penny he can get from them.

Meanwhile things aren’t much better in Somerset at the Brothers Drinks Co Ltd manufacturing plant, where another worker ended up arm-deep in yet another machine. This time it was a depalletiser that nearly severed the arm from the 52 year old employee (his name is being withheld from the press); the machine, which features a mechanism that swipes empty bottles from a conveyor on their way to be filled with whatever drink the firm is bottling that day, started up suddenly while the worker was trying to clear a stoppage.

Maybe it’s just me but shouldn’t employers ensure that their machinery doesn’t do that? It’s not too bright to operate unguarded pieces of machinery like that, especially when a work accident claim is going to absolutely ruin a company; perhaps these firms will learn their lesson?

Mind the gap or you might need to make an injury claim!

Industry news roundup: week ended 15 July 2013:

Public transport can be a pain, but it can be positively dangerous to your health as well; nowhere is it more dangerous than in London!

At least that’s what it looks like if a recent Freedom of Information request can be believed, as it came out this week that the London Underground has seen so many accidents over the past four years that it’s had to pay out on £2.5 million in personal injury compensation to thousands of injured tube riders. There were some 3,471 injuries last year alone – an increase of some 200 over 2011 figures, according to the information – with the most common occurrences being trips and falls.

You should be especially careful if you get on or off at Kings Cross St Pancras as well, as this station has the dubious honour of being the most dangerous. Transport for London received 147 passenger injury reports in 2012, making it the clear ‘winner;’ from 2009 to last year there were a total of 661 reported injuries in all.

Budget cuts have been the culprit, according to the Road Transport Union, as stations with skeleton crews simply can’t keep up with the maintenance needs of a massive railway network like the Underground. I wonder if it would have been cheaper to simply pay the salaries of a few more railway workers instead of paying out on such an enormous number of accident claims over the past four years!

It’s not just passengers that need to watch their necks, either; the few railway workers left are also experiencing some rather serious injuries whilst on the job. In fact i read about how a 32 year old railway worker that was severely burnt in an explosion has ended up with a massive settlement after he was left in the burn unit for an excruciating 10 weeks.

The poor man suffered 30 per cent burns to not just his upper body but his face as well, causing severe injuries and limiting his ability to breathe and speak. He also has ended up with poor movement in his right hand due to numbness and is now permanently disfigured as well, all because he had been working on a power cable that hadn’t been isolated properly and was actually coursing with electricity.

Can you imagine the pain and suffering this railway worker has had to endure since his personal injury at work? I suppose tripping down the stairwell at a tube station seems like a rather minor injury indeed in comparison, doesn’t it?

Think your injury is bad? At least you can still send texts

Industry news roundup: week ended 24 June 2013:

Never mind that some poor bloke was nearly crushed to death and only ended up with £70,000 – one worker wants £150,000 because he can’t send texts anymore.

I had really thought I’d seen, heard, and read everything when it comes to personal injury claims, but I was so very wrong; this week, I found out about one man that is so upset at no longer being able to send texts on his mobile that he’s looking for £150,000 in personal injury compensation! Meanwhile, even as I read this ridiculous bit of news I was struck at the difference between him and another person who nearly died in a terrible personal injury at work, but only received £70,000 in damages, and I can only conclude that the world has gone absolutely mad.

Isaak Alpman, an IT specialist, says he tumbled down a flight of stairs while at work and sustained what his personal injury solicitors called ‘personal injuries,’ whatever in the world that means. Somewhere along the way he did something to his right index finger that rendered him unable to send texts or use other sorts of items that he usually does for work, so now he wants massive sums of cash because the stairwell was unsafe.

Listen, I’m not about to say that anyone wasn’t terribly injured or not – I wasn’t there and I can’t say for sure what happened. But £150,000 for a crooked finger seems more than a bit mad to me – especially when other people have received much less for injuries much more severe – like when a metal cutting tool weighing well over a tunne landed atop an engineer so spectacularly that onlookers thought he had been instantly crushed to death!

David Hynds found himself trapped between the floor and a girder support when the massive tool fell 13 feet to the ground below, sustaining life-threatening fractures to his vertebrae. Unbelievably it just took five minutes for the 52 year old man to extricate himself safely from his position, and he was left with some quite severe and long-lasting injuries.

Mr Hynds, who is undoubtedly a very lucky man to have escaped with his life – considering how one of his colleauges was convinced Mr Hynds had been slain instantly in the accident as he observed it –  found that since the accident he had both enough physical pain and post-traumatic stress that he simply could not return to work in any sort of reliable capacity. As a result he brought a compensation claim against his employers and received a £70,000 compensation package for his trouble.

In other words, one man gets a one-tonne weight dropped on him and is satisfied with only £70,000, so where does another man get off with asking for £150,000 for a crooked finger?

Work accidents could spell financial disaster for two firms

Industry news roundup: week ended 17 June 2013:

Everyone knows that personal injury at work can lead to serious repercussions, and not just Health and Safety fines – work accident claims can be killer!

In fact, not one but two firms have been in the news lately for some severe workplace accidents, the first being an incident serious enough to lead to the unfortunate death of one worker. West Yorkshire native David Vickers, a 37 year old construction worker employed by Adis Scaffolding, sadly lost his life when he was crushed under an overturned truck, leading to an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive.

According to HSE investigators, the truck overturned because the skip it had been lifting had not been secured properly to it, unbalancing the large vehicle and causing it to upend. Mr Vickers’ employer was found to be in violation of several Health and Safety rules and has been fined an absolute fortune of some £420,000 in combined fines and court costs, but there could very well be even more costs on the horizon for the construction firm in the event that Mr Vickers’ surviving family members decide to sue the bloody trousers off the firm – and if you ask me, it’s more than even money that they will try to squeeze every penny they can from Adis Scaffolding!

Luckily the next incident in the news wasn’t fatal, though this doesn’t minimise the amount of suffering the poor man went through when an accident left him with a damaged eye and broken cheekbone when an air hose whipped his face. The injured man – whose identity has been kept a secret due to legal and privacy reasons – was busily cleaning a paint fume filter for the European branch of multinational firm Faltec when he disengaged the air hose of his sprayer without venting it first, which caused the terribly painful incident.

The HSE investigated this incident as well, discovering that Faltec didn’t give enough instruction to the worker regarding how to operate the sprayer, especially when it came to warnings about disconnecting a pressurised air hose. The employee never received the proper training or information, HSE inspectors determined, and as a result the poor man suffered life-changing injuries; the incident left him with permanent damage to one eye, resulting in visual impairment!

If there’s anything that will be an expensive personal injury compensation claim, it’s going to be that one once the injured worker gets time to find a decent injury lawyer. I don’t envy Faltec Europe at all – they’re going to be taken to the cleaners!

Police officers suffer from personal injury at work, too

Industry news roundup: week ended 8 Apr 2013:

You may think your job is dangerous, but imagine for a minute suffering a personal injury at work whilst working for your local police.

In fact, that’s exactly what’s going on in the news this week, as two police personnel file two unrelated personal injury claims for injures they’ve suffered whilst on the job. In fact one police officer, PC Kelly Jones of Norfolk Police, has actually ended up being criticised after she not only took legal action against her own force but for making a personal injury claim against the owner of a petrol station where PC Jones tripped as she answered a 999 call.

Norfolk Police refused to comment on either of PC Jones’ oustanding injury claims, though it is understood that the police force has admitted liability for one claim. The other claim, concerning the petrol station owner, is still ongoing as well.

Meanwhile, in a completely unrelated case the victim of a burglary is being sued for £10,000 in personal injury compensation by a police officer who supposedly fell into a drain and tore his Achilles tendon as he was investigating the break-in. Shop owner Stuart Lambley called on the police in his time of need, only to have to face a compensation claim made by 34 year old PC Richard Seymour, who seeks to recover loss of overtime – even though the six months PC Seymour was off work as his injuries healed was with full pay.

Mr Lambley is quite outraged, actually, and I really can’t blame him. Where does PC Seymour get off with suing the poor man for £10,000 in lost overtime if he was actually paid as he convalesced? The shop owner is certainly not going to be calling the police any more if he’s going to be in constant danger of being sued by police personnel who respond to his pleas of help, he says.

For what it’s worth, you shouldn’t be signing up to be a police officer if you’re afraid of suffering some harm here and there. Most police forces will take care of their own if they’re injured whilst on the job – such as paying PC Seymour for six months worth of sick leave – so it looks like to me these particular coppers aren’t exactly the type that are interested in protecting and serving anyone but their own best interests.

These are the types of people protecting us and keeping us safe from harm?  Have we all become so frail and easily hurt that we have to sue the victims of crimes for compensation? Simply unbelievable.

Getting injured on the job is a tough thing to deal with

Industry news roundup: week ended 4 Mar 2013:

It’s tough to deal with a personal injury at work, and the stories in the news this past week are a perfect indication of just how difficult it can be.

First up is the story of a £1.8 million personal injury compensation claim launched by a nursing assistant in Peterborough after she slipped on some spilt food. Michelle Lay, a thirty nine year old Yaxley native, had been unloading a food trolley at a local mental health unit when the incident occurred, which saw her slipping on some spilt left-overs that had not been tidied up, and Mrs Lay said in her accident claim that she actually left the floor when she slipped, only to smash her head on the food trolley and crash down on the base of her spine when she hit the floor.

Mrs Lay says that she’s been left in agonising neck and back pain as a result of the accident, forcing her to not just have to undergo a surgical procedure to fuse the top of her spine but to leave her job. She has since launched an injury claim against the NHS Trust that is responsible for the medical facility, claiming an initial £100,000 for her back, though the compensation claim has since grown to £1.8 million to take into account her neck injuries as well.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust has been fighting the injured woman tooth-and-nail, claiming that her injured neck was actually more due to an accident she was in at nineteen and that the hospital shouldn’t be responsible for such a massive personal injury claim. However, there’s not enough medical evidence to rule one way or another, and now the woman has to wait until a later date for the High Court to make a judgment.

Meanwhile, a lollipop lady from Wigan has fared a bit better in the wake of an injury she received at the hands of a hit and run car driver that knocked her over as she was undertaking her duties in helping schoolchildren cross the road. Karen Littler, the forty nine year old mother of four who was struck, feels trepidation to this day about actually stepping out into the road despite the fact that her injuries occurred a year ago, though the fact that she has received a four figure compensation sum has perhaps taken the sting out of this slightly.

Mrs Littler had been struck by a brown Honda Insight that then sped off. Luckily an astute witness to the accident took down the car’s registration letter and provided these details to the police, and the authorities caught up to the motorist, who was then dragged into Wigan Magistrates Court on charges of driving without due care.

The motorist was convicted, and on top of that Mrs Littler sued the driver’s insurer for damages. The lollipop lady’s personal injury solicitors prevailed, earning her an undisclosed sum that is understood to be at least four figures.

I really can’t imagine what kind of terrible person would not just hit a lollipop lady with their vehicle but then flee the scene as well. I’m very glad to hear that they were caught and punished, and that Mrs Littler received a compensation award for her pain and suffering!

Poorly guarded machinery leads to serious hand injury

Industry news roundup: week ended 21 Jan 2013:

It was revealed this week that a serious personal injury at work involving a piece of machinery that was poorly guarded has resulted in fines for one employer.

According to a hearing recently occurring at Stafford Magistrates’ Court, an unnamed employee of Bathgate Slate Technologies Limited, a Newcastle-under-Lyme building products manufacturer, suffered serious injuries to his hand after a run-in with a piece of machinery that was poorly guarded. Bathgate had been trialling the new piece of machinery – which produced bricks coated with sand – at the time of the incident, which involved the employee’s hand becoming trapped within the machine as he reached in to remove finished bricks from within it.

According to the injured worker’s personal injury claims, he had been removing the bricks from the conveyor at the end of the machine, but when he reached in his hand became pinned between the conveyor belt and a roller just underneath it. This crushed his hand so severely that, upon rushing him to the North Staffordshire Hospital, it was discovered that there was no way to save his little finger and that doctors had little choice but to amputate it in order to save the hand; the injured man’s ring finger was also damaged so severely by his injury that it necessitated the surgical implantation of a pin.

The Health and Safety Executive went positively mad after discovering that the incident occurred, sending investigators to Bathgate Slate to get to the bottom of such a gruesome and painful work accident. HSE invesigators discovered that there had been plans to install proper safety guarding to the brick making machine once the trial period had come to an end, even though installing the guards during the trial would have completely prevented the painful and debilitating injuries sustained by the hapless worker. been totally avoided.

The HSE prosecuted Bathgate Slate, which resulted in the Chesterton-based manufacturer to admit its guilt in breaching Health and Safety rules. The company was slapped with a £4,000 fine with an additional £5.464 in legal fees and court costs for its mistake.