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!

Tragic ends and close calls in the news this week

Personal injury is never a laughing matter, especially when someone pays the ultimate price – but for every fatal occurrence there’s one that’s miraculous, too.

On the sad and tragic side of the news is how poor Mark Nyland lost his life in a rather gruesome accident at work. Mr Nyland, who was a lorry driver, ended up pinned between his lorry and a heavy loading shovel driven by a Kenneth Miller, a colleague who worked at the Milton Landfill Site with him. The ironic part is that the area of the landfill that the accident occurred was supposed to be a ‘safe area,’ where it was prohibited to use large vehicles near pedestrians.

Mr Nyland’s surviving family is likely to go after Miller with a vengeance, especially since the man died so young. I wouldn’t want to be in that loading shovel driver’s shoes right now, though I do sympathise with Mr Nyland’s relatives; it’s a senseless, tragic death.

Luckily not all the news is so dour and depressing this week. In fact, the accident solicitors can take a holiday with this next incident: two bricklayers miraculously avoided serious injury after plummeting from the second storey of a collapsing building.  The two workers – a son and his father that have requested their identities be kept confidential – had been contracted to work on the building as it was being renovated, but Clark Brothers, the construction firm in charge of the whole affair, neglected to run any sort of risk assessment on the building.

Well, it turns out the second floor of the building just wasn’t structurally sound enough to hold the weight of all those bricks, and it triggered a collapse that sent the pair of workers tumbling down. Somehow in all the tumult they managed to avoid anything more than just a few cuts and scrapes, which is absolutely miraculous considering that an entire bloody building came down around them, not to mention all those heavy bricks and masonry!

It’s nice to hear a news story involving a work accident that didn’t result in workers ending up in hospital. It’s so rare to have a ‘happy ending’ to a story like that, but that’s as happy as it can get: our heroes walk out without getting injured and live to fight another day. Of course, Clark Brothers had to pay a hefty fine to the Health and Safety Executive, but it sounds like they deserve that!

Worker breaks arm in conveyor belt accident

The employee of a Birmingham-based metal recycling company suffered a broken arm in a personal injury at work when the appendage was caught in a conveyor belt, leading to the Health and Safety Executive to fine his employers.

Twenty eight year old worker, unidentified by anything but by his home town of Blackheath, had been working to clear a blockage on one of the scrap metal conveyor belts at the Hawkeswood Metal Recycling Ltd’s Nechells plant when the injury occurred. According to the man’s personal injury claims, he had initially attempted to clear the blockage by using a mop before then trying to dislodge the metal by reaching in and using his right hand to do so, only to have his glove become trapped.

With his glove lodged in-between a rotating roller and the conveyor itself, his arm was dragged into the machine, causing soft tissue damage to his wrist and breaking his right arm in the incident. The anonymous worker’s injuries were so serious that he was off work for nine months straight in order for him to make a full recovery from his work accident.

According to HSE investigators, there were no safety guards fitted to the conveyor belt, which meant that anyone could have been able to reach inside and have their hands come into contact with the dangerous moving parts of the machine. Hawkeswood Metal Recycling Ltd was prosecuted by the HSE, leading to the company pleading guilty to breaching Health and Safety regulations and earning Hawkeswood a £50,000 fine.