A member of Unite from Birmingham has received compensation after suffering a crush injury to his hand and the partial amputation of his thumb because he didn’t have adequate safety training at work.
At the time of the accident, Stephen, 53, was working for a building company delivering cement to various locations across the West Midlands.
He had unloaded cement from the mixer at one job and was cleaning the machine. He was meant to wash it out with a hose pipe but it was faulty, so he was told to clean it manually instead.
He was cleaning the mixer, with his hand reaching into the machine’s shutter door, when he accidently knocked the handle that operates the machine.
The mixer fired up and dragged Stephen’s right hand into the machine, causing a crushing injury and lacerations.
He was taken to hospital where doctors informed him that the damage to his thumb was so severe that he would have to lose the tip.
Two days after his accident, Stephen was dismissed by his employer and spent months looking for other employment.
He contacted Unite Legal Services to investigate a compensation claim on his behalf.
Stephen said: “My manager had told me to clean out the mixer by hand, so I assumed that it would be safe to do so. If I hadn’t been given faulty equipment to use or at least given some sort of training on how to safely clean the machine, I wouldn’t be in this mess…
“Finding out I’d been laid off through no fault of my own was quite literally an insult after injury and I couldn’t get straight back onto the job market because of the damage to my hand. I’m lucky that I had the backing of my union Unite to make sure that my employer was held to account for what has happened to me.”
Stef Blasczyk, west midlands regional legal officer from Unite the Union, said: “Stephen had unfortunately been ill advised and that, coupled with inadequate equipment provided by his employer, led to this avoidable injury. If Stephen hadn’t reacted as quickly as he did by removing his hand from the machine then a further extensive injury could have been caused.”
“Fortunately, Stephen has been able to regain the use of his hand but his injury and the experience of it will stay with him for the rest of his life. Employers need to understand that if they don’t provide reasonable protection for their staff, then they, as well and their employees, will suffer repercussions for their negligence.”