Road worker sues for compensation and wins, thanks to lawyer

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 8 Jan 2013:

Thanks to help from his trade union’s personal injury lawyers, one  badly injured road worker has recently prevailed on his work accident claim.

It was revealed this week that 35 year old Dean Ness, from Chesterfield, has received a personal injury compensation award for the personal injury at work he received whilst labouring on a darkened stretch of the A52 , injuring his ankle so severely that he needed rehabilitative surgery and missed three months of work. Mr Ness stumbled on the kerb as he had been putting cones on the road, tearing ligaments in his ankle.

Carillion Plc, Mr Ness’ employer, had received complaints from the injured man’s night shift colleagues prior to Mr Ness’ accident regarding the dangerous lack of lighting on that particular portion of the road. However, Carillion failed to listen to the needs of its own employees, instead choosing not to rig up any sort of temporary illumination in order to provide adequate light to Mr Ness and the rest of his fellow road workers.

Mr Ness’ ankle emerged with terrible bruises and swelling, yet the man tried his best to soldier on with the pain for several weeks. Finally it came abundantly clear that the injured man’s ankle was not healing properly, prompting him to seek medical help that saw him undergo a round of physiotherapy and led to his surgical procedure.

In the wake of his surgery, Mr Ness contacted his trade union, which instructed its personal injury lawyers to prosecute Carillion for neglecting to provide a safe working environment. Mr Ness’ employer admitted liability, settling out of court in a compensation payment in excess of £8,000.

Workers injured left and right, HSE mobilises

Personal injury news roundup: 7 days ended 6 Nov 2012:

The Health and Safety Executive has been working overtime this week as news emerges concerning a number of workers suffering injury at work recently.

First was the unfortunate story of how one man, on his first day of a new job, sustained personal injury at work after he tumbled from the back of a tipper lorry.  An unnamed man, unidentified save for the fact that he is 40 years of age, had been working to collect waste from an Acton worksite for Quick Skips & Recycling Ltd when he fell, suffering quite severe injury including a blood clot in his head, two broken ribs, and a punctured lung, resulting in the man remaining in hospital whilst unconscious for a fortnight.

The HSE’s investigators discovered that the man had been knocked from the vehicle as he worked to clear a jam on a waste load covering device. The device sprang back suddenly, causing the man’s injuries, according to testimony given in Westminster Magistrates’ Court, where Qucick Skips & Recycling Ltd was slapped with a £20,000 fine.

In related news, a painter from Birmingham also fell while at work, tumbling through the skylight on an industrial unit’s roof as he worked there. Philip Brown, a thirty six year old Sheldon man, had been taken on to work at the Kettering industrial site by KJ Smith and Sons Painters & Decorators. KJ Smith was, in turn, sub-contracted by JBN Builders Ltd.

Mr Brown had been busy at work painting the roof in question when the skylight he accidentally stepped on gave way beneath him, sending him dropping seven metres to the ground, sustaining a broken wrist, elbow, pelvis, hip, and righ tleg in the fall. The unfortunate man also sustained several cuts and bruises to his face and other head injuries, and in all he was in hospital for nearly a month.

The HSE brought both JBN and KJ Smith up on charges of breaching health and safety violations, resulting in a fine of £3,000 for the former and £4,500 for the latter.

What do whiplash and asthma have in common?

While it seems they have nothing in common, both a whiplash claim and a claim for asthma both made big news this week.

Personal injury solicitors won a personal injury compensation award of £15,000 for a man whose asthma was triggered by exposure to dangerous fumes. Firefighter Leigh Payne, who was employed at Exeter and Devon Airport, was exposed to unfiltered red diesel fumes, noxious substances that would collect in plane cargo holds after being emitted from power tugs and other related vehicles.

Many of Mr Payne’s working days would be spent in exposure to these fumes, sometimes for more than two hours at  time, as he removed baggage and post from planes, until he was diagnosed with occupational asthma in 2010, resulting in him having to take time off work in order to recover. Once it became clear that Mr Payne’s asthma had been triggered by diesel fumes exposure, the firefighter made a claim for personal injury at work against the airport, with the end result being the man has been awarded £15,000 for his pain and suffering.

While it’s been a happy ending for Mr Payne, one injured scholgirl’s story is far from over; Amber Dunkley, just 13 years old, was struck by a bus while waiting at  bus stop in Cemaes, Wles, just a week ago.Young Amber had been speaking to her friends, reportedly standing on the pavement, when she was struck from behind on the shoulder by the bus, allegedly causing not just a whiplash injury but also injuring her shoulder and back, necessitating three day off school and the prescription of painkillers in order for her to cope with the injuries.

Amber’s parents have since made a complaint about the bus driver’s behaviour, asserting that she was a foot away – or more – from the road at the time of the accident, despite the fact that the driver said to one of her friends that Amber had been standing too close to the road. The callous driver allegedly didn’t even inquire if she had been injured after Amber boarded the bus in the wake of the incident.

Nice bloke, to say the least. The upside of this is that the bus company, education authority, and police are all reportedly investigating the incident in an effort to get to the bottom of things.

HSE prosecutes bacon curing firm after worker loses fingers

After a worker at a West Midlands-based bacon curing firm lost three of his fingers in a personal injury at work, the Health and Safety Executive has prosecuted the company for not taking steps to prevent the worker’s injury.

Daniel Wilfred, a twenty year old native of Walsall, had been employed by the Midland Bacon Company as a factory worker at the time of the incident, according to personal injury lawyers familiar with the case. Mr Wilfred, who had noticed that packs of bacon joints were being dropped onto the floor by one of the factory’s packaging machines, attempted to rescue the falling packs by leaning over the conveyor belt of the machine and reaching out with his left hand, only to suffer a gruesome injury when the cutting blades of the packaging machine came into contact with his hand, instantly severing three of his fingers.

The HSE launched an investigation into the incident, with inspectors making the discovery that the injured man’s employer had neglected to take measures in preventing their worker from coming into contact with the dangerous moving parts of the packaging machines within the factory. The Bloxwich-based firm, was brought before Wolverhampton Crown Court at a hearing and successfully prosecuted by the HSE, leading to a massive £30,000 fine after the company admitted to violating regulations concerning the provision and use of equipment at work.

One HSE inspector spoke out after the court hearing had concluded, remarking that employers have a duty of care towards their employees, adding that any machine with dangerous moving parts was guarded adequately and that their workers needed to be made aware of the potential risks involved in working on or around such machinery.

Food production employee suffers personal injury at work

The sixteen year old employee of a West Midlands-based food production firm suffered a serious personal injury at work to his hand, leading to substantial fine for the company, it was recently reported.

While the identity of the teenage worker cannot be made public due to legal concerns, personal injury solicitor experts recently said that Phoenix Brands Ltd, the young man’s employer, was called before Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court during a hearing to determine if the company violated health and safety regulations when the teenager injured his hand clearing a blockage on a biscuit crumbling machine located at the company’s Bilston plant. The unnamed worker sustained severe damage to his right hand upon reaching inside the machine, as a rotating blade within the machine, designed to break biscuits into smaller pieces as they progress up a tube, came into contact with his right hand.

According to medical reports, the damage done to the teenager’s hand was so severe that doctors had no choice but to perform an amputation of his middle finger. The severity of the incident prompted the Health and Safety Executive to investigate, with HSE inspectors discovering that there was inadequate guarding on the machine in question, thus permitting workers to access dangerous moving parts of its mechanism while in operation.

As a result of the HSE’ successful prosecution of Phoenix Brands Ltd a Wolverhampton Magistrates’ Court, the firm admitted breaching health and safety regulations. The company was given a fine of £7,000 and also told to pay a sum of £4,000 in additional court costs for the part they played in the loss of the teenage worker’s finger.

Much like many other industrial and manufacturing accidents, this incident could have been completely avoided if the firm had simply performed an adequate risk assessment on the machine one HSE inspector remarked after the court’s decision.

HSE prosecuted metal polishing firm, legal experts report

Personal injury claims experts recently reported that the Government’s Health and Safety Executive has taken one West Midlands-based metal polishing firm to court after learning that two workers sustained serious personal harm in not one but two separate instances of personal injury at work.

Both incidents occurred at the Wednesbury premises of Farrelly’s Metal Polishers Ltd in the span of time between March and August of 2011.  The first accident saw one worker sustaining serious harm to his left hand after it became drawn into a machine designed to polish the edges of metal pieces, while the second incident involved one designed for polishing tubes, leaving the employee’s right hand in need of extensive skin grafts after it too was dragged inside the moving mechanisms of the machine.

The investigation carried out by HSE inspectors found that there had been no guarding present on the first machine, leading to employees that had been assigned on that machine to be in constant danger of becoming injured as a result. There had been efforts to make improvements to the safety features of all the machines on the premises following the first injury, but the guarding that had been fitted to the tube polishing machine proved inadequate for the work that was being conducted, which led to the injuries of the second employee just a few months afterwards.

The HSE prevailed against the metal polishing company at a recent hearing, with the end result being that Farrelly’s Metal Polishers Ltd admitted breaching health and safety regulations and being ordered to pay a fine of £14,000 with an additional £6,800 in court costs as well.

Young man loses thumb in accident at work

A 19-year-old teenager is considering making a claim for personal injury compensation after he suffered a personal injury at work in the summer of 2010.

The young man was working as an agency employee for Latrave, a firm that manufactured adhesive tape in Wellingborough at the time the incident occurred.

He had only been working with the company for three weeks when he was called upon to try and fix a running printing press. Unfortunately, whilst he was carrying out this task, he severed his thumb and needed to spend five days in the Royal Derby Hospital’s specialist hand injury unit. Even after he was discharged, he was unable to return to work for nearly seven months.

The Health and Safety Executive investigated the circumstances leading up to the injury and Latrave was brought in front of Wellingborough Magistrates’ Court for breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act.

Mark Austin from the HSE said that the inexperienced worker suffered permanent harm because Latrave did not make sure he was safe when he operated the machine.

Unfortunately this type of incident is all too common, despite the strict health and safety regulations in place in the UK. Employers have a duty to protect their staff and yet far too many do not carry out proper risk assessments before allocating tasks.

Employees get injured, sometimes fatally, and the employer receives a hefty fine. All of this could be avoided if employers recognised that they were responsible for the safety of their staff.

Why do more personal injuries at work happen on Thursdays?

Personal injuries at work cost Irish employers €22.5 million in 2011, according to figures recently released by InjuriesBoard.ie.

8.4% of all Irish personal injury compensation awards last year were for accidents that occurred in the workplace. Whilst that figure does compare favourably with 2010 when 11% of awards were for work-related injuries, it is thought the decrease was due to increased unemployment rather than better safety measures.

The report also contained some other interesting findings. Men appear to be more accident-prone at work, accounting for 70% of all compensation awards. On average, men received slightly higher awards than their female counterparts – €27,246 for men and €26,771 for women.

32.4% of workplace accident awards went to people in the 25 to 34 age bracket, whilst those aged between 18 and 24 accounted for just 12.5% of awards.

For some inexplicable reason, Thursday turned out to be the most dangerous workday. Again for reasons unknown, more workplace accidents took place in November 2011 than any other month that year. April was deemed the safest month, but that could be explained by the two four day weekends that occurred during the month last year.

The bulk of the claims were for accidents in manufacturing and production industries. Defective equipment, handling of goods and slips, trips and falls being the most common accidents.

The chief executive of InjuriesBoard.ie, Patricia Byron, said she continued to be surprised by the amount of claims for accidents that could easily have been avoided if basic health and safety measures were implemented in the workplace.

APIL steps up fight for compensation for asbestos victims

Karl Tonks, the president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, has promised to step up the fight for compensation for victims of accidents and industrial disease.

46-year-old Tonks has only recently taken over as president of APIL but he is leading the campaign for insurers to set up a ‘last resort fund’ to help people suffering from the affects of asbestos exposure if their employer’s insurance company cannot be traced.

It can take several years before people who have been exposed to asbestos start to show symptoms and by then insurance records have been destroyed or lost. The ‘last resort fund’ would work on a similar basis to the current system that protects people who are involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist.

Tonks explained that people who are entitled to personal injury at work compensation cannot claim it unless they can trace their past employer’s insurer. He says the insurance industry should be able to pay these claims through an employers’ liability insurance bureau. Insurers have already received the premiums and they should accept responsibility for the problem and rectify it.

He also had harsh words for insurers who prolong the personal injury claims process unnecessarily. Our current legal system means that claims drag on for far too long, adding additional costs, which are then passed on to customers through higher premiums.

The planned reforms to the no win no fee system are going to further erode the rights of injury victims and people will find it even harder to access justice, he added.

Shipyard apprentice falls from height, is seriously injured

Serious injuries were sustained by one Cornwall native working as a shipyard apprentice when he fell from scaffolding at a Falmouth dry dock, it was recently reported.

David Banks, from St Austell, had been only nineteen years of age at the time, and had been working to strip away plastic sheeting that had been used to protect a boat as it was being painted.  The accident, which involved plummeting nearly two metres from the unsecured scaffolding, left the teenage employee suffering serious injuries to his knee in the fall, according to personal injury lawyers familiar with the case.

However, as young Mr Banks had been working at removing the plastic sheeting from approximately two metres off the ground, the scaffolding boards under his feet tipped.  This sent him falling to the floor of the dock below him and resulted in his injuries, and also resulted in the Health and Safety Executive launching an investigation, revealing that the teen had not been aware that the scaffolding boards were not secured and that there was a distinct lack of any sort of safety rails in order to aid in the prevention of any falls from height.

Falmouth-based Pendennis Shipyard Ltd was prosecuted by the HSE in a court hearing, leading to the firm being given a fine of £6,000 after it admitted that its breach of health and safety regulations played a role in the young man’s injuries.  The lead HSE inspector on the investigation added, after the hearing, that the firm had neglected to provide a safe working environment for its workers, and was lucky that Mr Banks’ personal injury at work not more serious than they actually were.

Mesothelioma compensation claims continue to rise

Personal injury solicitors in the North East could soon find themselves representing an increasing number of families of mesothelioma cases.

Stephen Hepburn, the Member of Parliament for Jarrow, obtained official statistics that showed there were 75 deaths from mesothelioma between the years 2005 and 2010. Furthermore, the majority of these asbestos-related deaths occurred between 2009 and 2010.

He also discovered that the number of people who were dying from the disease is increasing and this could lead to a rising number of personal injury at work claims from surviving family members.

Anne Craig lost her husband to the disease back in 2002. She now works as an official for the Mick Knighton Mesothelioma Research Fund. She recently told the shields Gazette that deaths from the disease are continuing to increase and it will be several years before they peak.

It takes an average of 40 years after being exposure to asbestos for the disease to develop, but it could appear after as many as 60 years. Although the use of asbestos is now banned in construction and industry, it peaked during the 1970s and therefore it is likely that personal injury compensation claims will continue to rise for the next ten years.

It’s not only the North East that appears to have this problem. We’ve read reports recently of an increase in the number of mesothelioma in Barrow in Furness, Cumbria and West Dorset. Both areas were famous for shipbuilding as was the Tyne and Wear region.

Fatal personal injury at work may lead to compensation claim

A fatal personal injury at work may soon lead to the family of the slain man to seek personal injury compensation from his former employers, according to legal experts familiar with the incident.

It was November of 2009 when Christopher Fox was crushed beneath an overturning tractor.  The 60 year old man had been working in Worksop for the GMT Foljambe 1996 Discretionary Trust at the time, and had been working on a project felling trees at the time of the incident.

The tractor, which had been employed in controlling the direction of each tree as it fell, unexpectedly tipped over, subsequently landing on top of the worker and instantly killing him.  In the wake of the tragic fatal accident, the Health and Safety Executive investigated the incident, only to discover that one of the trustees of Mr Fox’s employer, George Michaelt Thornhagh Foljambe, had neglected to offer the worker proper advice on how to operate the equipment he had been using just prior to his death.

THe HSE’s David Butter remarked that tree-felling is an inherently high-risk activity.  Anyone who comes to work on such a project must be given sufficient levels of training in order to be prepared for the task at hand, Mr Butter added, and industry experts say that those who neglect to provide that training to their employees are in danger of being found responsible for any accidents that may occur during the course of any work carried out.

No further information is yet available as to whether the family of the slain worker will be pursuing compensation from his employers.