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.

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.

Major incident at work leads to fine for Kent firm

Weekly news recap: 7 days ending 3 Dec 2012

A serious hand injury suffered on the job by one employee has led to his Kent-based employer to face serious fines from the Health and Safety Executive.

This week, the big news was how BMM Weston Ltd ran into serious fines as a result of an HSE investigation following a grisly personal injury at work that involved an unguarded circular saw. Kent factory worker Graham Beal, from Faversham, suffered a nasty wound to his hand as he was attempting to use the saw to cut a solid steel piece in order to shape it for a metal trolley handle. Mr Beale had been using the metal cutting saw to cut the steel into the proper shapes, but had to hold the bit of metal in place by hand as the saw’s clamping system was not working properly.

The worker sustained severed tendons and some quite serious lacerations to his hand when it came in contact with the saw blade due because of the malfunctioning clamping system, sending him to hospital and causing the HSE to send a pack of inspectors out to investigate the cause of the industrial accident. The HSE’s investigation discovered bad news for Mr Beal’s employer, as the circular saw was found to be in such an unsuitable condition that it was declared generally unsafe due to poor maintenance – and that wasn’t the only piece of manufacturing equipment at the factory that was found to be similarly in disrepair.

The HSE prosecuted BMM Weston Ltd – as it usually does after finding some rather egregious health and safety violations at a worksite – and the manufacturing firm gave up the ghost, admitting to breaching work equipment regulations not once but twice. The Weston Works, Faversham-based company was told to pay a fine of £2,400 for their breaches and has since ensured that the clamping mechanism on the saw is now working properly and that the saw itself has been suitably fitted with guarding as well.

There is yet to be any indication regarding whether Mr Beal will be making a personal injury compensation claim against his employer.

Bad burns for one Essex man at Chelmsford engineering plant

Industry news roundup: week ended 12 Nov 2012:

This week, a rather gruesome injury made the news when a man from Essex suffered quite bad burns whilst on the job at a Chelmsford engineering plant.

The unnamed man, a thirty nine year old worker for Infinite Engineering Ltd, came into close contact with caustic soda – a substance also known as solidified sodium hydroxide – as he was tasked with cleaning out a tank of the substance. The man had been standing in the tank in order to chip away at the crystallised material within the tank when he suffered chemical burns to his face after having to lift his safety mask from his face after it misted up, obscuring his vision.

Crystals of the caustic soda alighted on the man’s face, burning both the inside of his tear duct and his eyelid. Fortunately for him, he managed to avoid getting the crystals in his eyes, as that could have led to permanent damage for his vision otherwise his vision.

The incident was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive shortly after it occurred, with HSE inspectors concluding that the man’s employer should have done more to protect the worker from sustaining damage from caustic soda crystals. The HSE prosecuted the London-based Inflite Engineering Ltd, which operates from Stansted airport, resulting in a massive fine of £17,000 and court costs of £3,246 after Inflite admitted breaching health and safety regulations.

In an interview given in the wake of the court hearing, one inspector for the HSE remarked that Inflite had neglected to adequately carry out risk assessments of what it involved to clean the tank of caustic soda in a safe manner. Not only was the injured man placed in jeopardy of receiving chemical burns, pointed out the HSE inspector, but the danger of falling from the task was not accounted for as well, though luckily the employee’s injuries were relatively minor in comparison to the debilitating injuries he could have sustained.

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.

Injured police officers claim thousands in damages

Being a law enforcement official can be a dangerous job sometimes: injured police officers from Lancashire have claimed thousands in damages after making work accident claims.

The Lancashire Police Force has been suffering from high volumes of personal injury at work over the last five years, as it was recently revealed in a Freedom of Information request that there were 4,000 police personnel injured in the line of duty. Two of these Lancashire police officers were injured so severely that their lives were even in danger, the documents revealed.

Luckily, not all the injuries were quite that severe; in fact a good number of them were complete accidents. One officer became injured after falling from their bicycle seat, earning a total of £1,500 in personal injury compensation, while another saw an officer injured when a colleague inadvertently threw a bike at him, injuring him enough to warrant a £4,620 compensation award.

It may sound frivolous, but it’s not as if there’s some concerted effort on the part of police officers in Lancashire to injure themselves in order to get a few extra quid. In fact, injury figures are overall in decline, even if last year’s figures were higher than 2010’s, indicating that most police personnel are actually quite careful due to their training and experience.

Still, accidents happen, which is why accident claims are made. If even professional law enforcement officers sometimes get embroiled in incidents at work that leave someone injured inadvertently, it’s no wonder that personal injury at work occurs in other employment sectors – especially the construction sector, due to the sometimes dangerous nature of the work.


Employee to make work accident claim after factory incident

One factory worker will be making a work accident claim after a machine he was working trapped and burnt both of his arms – an incident that has led to his employer being fined by the Health and Safety Executive.

Employed by Marling Leek Ltd in August of 2011 when the accident occurred, Stewart Wood, a dye operative,  had been operating a machine at the company’s factory that is used to manufacture safety harnesses and seatbelts when the machine developed a problem. Due to meshing becoming entangled within one of the machine’s parts, it fell to Mr Wood to clear the problem, but as he reached inside the still-moving machine his left arm was pulled within the mechanism, trapping him inside – his right arm soon joined it as he attempted to extricate himself from the machine.

According to an article that appeared in the Sentinel newspaper, Mr Wood remained painfully rapped by the machine before one of his colleagues became alerted to the problem and helped to free him. The injured factory worker sustained sever burns to his arms from the machine’s heated rollers, necessitating a three week hospital stay in order to recover, and due to the lasting damage he sustained, Mr Wood is now making a personal injury claim against his employer.

The HSE investigated the circumstances surrounding the man’s injuries, discovering that Mr Wood had not been given any health and safety guidance since 1999, when he first joined the company. The machine had been with the factory even longer – 25 years – and could have been made safe by very simple measures, thus preventing the accident; for the firm’s failures to do so, it now faces a fine of £5,000.

The company was fined £5,000 at court yesterday for health and safety breaches in regards to the accident. The firm has reportedly made safety improvements since the accident occurred.

Demolition worker caught in gas pipe explosion at work

Work accident claim experts say that one thirty seven year old demolition worker was caught in a gas pipe explosion on the job, with his forearms and face suffering serious burn damage as he cut through a gas pipe he had been told had been inactive with an angle grinder.

The unnamed man, whose anonymity is being preserved by the press, had been working on a warehouse demolition project in Burton-on-Trent for Birstall Demolition and Plant Services Ltd, his employer, at the time of the incident.  The Wkefield, West Yorkshire native had been cutting material away from a mezzanine area shortly before the accident, according to testimony heard by Burton-on-Trent Magistrates’ Court; the pipe, which was not inactive as the worker had been led to believe, had been filled with gas when his angle grinder came into contact with it, sparking an explosion that injured him seriously enough to require treatment at Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s specialised burns unit for a period of two days.

The Health and Safety Executive made the decision to launch an investigation into the gas explosion, discovering that the man’s employer had neglected to carry out an exceedingly simple check that would have ensured that it would have been safe to remove the gas pipes.  As a result of its failure, the West Yorkshire firm was given a fine of £10,000 after it admitted to breaching health and safety regulations.

Birstall Demolition and Plant Services Ltd was also told to pay £4,256 in court costs in addition to the fine.

Stonemason asking for £200k after work accident

One stonemason is looking for in excess of £200,000 in personal injury compensation after he was severely injured in an accident at work, it was recently reported.

41 year old Malcolm Hutcheon had been working on historic Kildrummy Castle in January of 2009 on behalf of Historic Scotland, but suffered severe injuries when he tumbled into the historic ruin’s ancient moat, work accident claim experts say.  Mr Hutcheon had been working with three other experts in clearing away moss from the ruins when the temporary bridge under his feet gave way, causing him to plummet approximately three metres into the dry moat.

Mr Hutcheon recently filed a compensation claim at Edinburgh’s Court of Session, claiming that his injuries were so severe that he had been left in need of a surgical procedure in order to treat the damage, even after two years had passed since the incident had initially occurred.  One of the top stonemasons in Scotland prior to the accident, Mr Hutcheon now asserts in his accident claim that his ability to undertake work has been diminished quite severely, leaving him quite disadvantaged when it comes to performing on the job.

The 41 year old claims that he is in constant pain and cannot walk without a pronounced limp.  The worst experiences he has are on rough terrain, where he finds walking to be quite a struggle; walking long distances is also painful and tiring, Mr Hutcheon also reported.

Historic Scotland has declined to comment on the ongoing legal matter.

Work accident leaves joiner paralysed, parish council fined

An accident at work has left one joiner paralysed and the parish council he had been working for with both a serious fine and the responsibility to pay the injured man personal injury compensation, it was recently reported.

The self-employed joiner, whose has gone unnamed so far, had been part of a team working at South Kensington’s St Paul’s Church, where the building was being fitted with an adjustable floor at the time of the incident.  However, the man suffered a fall from height as the balcony railing he had been leaning upon dropped under his weight, sending him plummeting three metres to the floor below and causing a broken shoulder, several broken ribs, a broken back, and spinal injuries that have made it impossible for him to move below his waist.

Last April, the Health and Safety Executive prosecuted Holy Trinity Brompton parish council at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, where the council admitted to being responsible for the accident by failing to place a temporary high barrier on the balcony to eliminate the possibility of any falls from height, earning th council a fine of £5,000.  There was such a barrier in place shortly before the incident occurred, but after complaints were made about how difficult it was to move materials on the worksite it was removed.

The parish council will also be providing damages to the unnamed joiner for his life-changing injuries, according to an article in the Kensington and Chelsea Chronicle newspaper, though no further information has been made available as to how much compensation the man will receive.