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Accidents at Work - Case Studies

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£4000 compensation for cuts to forearm at work

After a long day at work, Mr H was ready to go home and relax. However, before locking the office, he was asked by his Manager to go upstairs and close a window in the staff room which had been left open. Being the helpful man he is, he went to close the window by pushing the frame with the palm of his hand. Not knowing that the frame was stiff and not working properly, when he applied a bit of force the glass smashed all over his arm.

As a result, Mr H sustained cuts to his forearm causing multiple and permanent small scars. The insurers for his work initially denied any fault but when we explained that Mr H’s Manager was aware that there were problems in closing the windows, they admitted liability.

Mr H subsequently received £4,000.00 for his injuries along with around £500 to compensate him for the week he lost from work.

Deliveryman Attacked by Dogs

Mr S was viciously attacked by three dogs when he attempted to make a delivery. Having arrived at the delivery address, the front door was opened when the dogs came charging at him and bit him in multiple places on his body.

Fortunately he was not severely injured but he was totally lost about what his options were to claim compensation. His employer recommended that he talk to us at Aequitas Legal. Following a free consultation where his options were explained, Mr S felt that he could trust us to advise and help him.

Within a handful of months, the owner of the dogs accepted liability for the attack and as the dogs were insured, a successful claim for compensation totalling £2,500 was made. Mr S received all of his compensation as the legal costs were also paid by the insurers.

Mr S said that had Aequitas Legal not taken the time to explain the claims process and his options, he would not have understood how easy the process was or that he was entitled to compensation.

£7,000 for Hearing Loss Caused by Workplace Noise Exposure

A fitter has won nearly £7,000 in compensation after suffering damage to his hearing as a result of exposure to noise at work.

The 66-year-old man began working for his employer in 1967 but was not provided with hearing protection until the early 1990s, despite the high noise levels in the factory where he worked. The company did not make the use of ear protection mandatory until 2006.

The type of protection provided meant that the man and his colleagues were forced to choose between using ear protection or eye protection. Feeling that his sight was more important, the fitter chose to wear protective glasses rather than hearing protection.

As a result, the man has now been diagnosed with noise-induced hearing loss. He is deaf in his left ear, has to wear a hearing aid and suffers from tinnitus.

After bringing a claim against his employer, a settlement of almost £7,000 was agreed.

Employers have a duty to protect their workers against excessive exposure to noise. The Noise at Work Regulations 1989, which came into force in January 1990, put in place a series of rules that employers had to follow, depending on the level of workplace noise. The Regulations were replaced by the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005, which revised the noise action levels. The website of the Health and Safety Executive contains useful information on protecting your hearing from damage.

Mesothelioma Diagnosis Leads to £162,000 Settlement

A pensioner who developed a deadly form of lung cancer decades after coming into contact with asbestos in the workplace has won a six-figure compensation settlement.

The 72-year-old man worked as an engineer for a motor vehicle manufacturer between 1953 and 1958. For most of this time, he was working in a foundry in which the pipe work was lagged with asbestos. He usually worked in close proximity to the pipes and the foundry was very dirty and dusty.

The man subsequently left engineering and went to work in the public sector. In 2006, however, he developed a cough and chest pains and frequently felt lethargic. He underwent various treatments, none of which was effective, before eventually being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs.

Mesothelioma is a deadly disease, almost always caused by exposure to asbestos. It can manifest itself decades after exposure and is usually at an advanced stage by the time symptoms appear.

Following an appeal for witnesses from the 1950s, it was possible to gather enough evidence to make a successful claim against the man’s former employer. The insurers settled the case for £162,000.

Click here for further information about asbestos-related illnesses.

£17,500 Compensation for Leg Injury at Work

A man who suffered a broken leg in a workplace accident has agreed a £17,500 compensation settlement.

The man was using overhead lifting gear to turn over a metal plate weighing approximately one and a half tonnes when the accident occurred. He was working in a confined space and it was difficult to keep control of the plate as it was being manoeuvred into position. The plate accidentally swung towards him, striking his leg and knocking him over.

His leg was badly broken and he had to undergo surgery in order to repair the damage. He was off work for many weeks while recovering from the injury, during which time he had to use a wheelchair and crutches.

Although the man was eventually able to return to work, he has been left with permanent scarring and ongoing problems as a result of the accident.

The man’s employer had not provided him with any training in the use of the overhead crane, nor had a risk assessment been carried out for the task. He believed his accident could have been prevented, and commenced a personal injury claim against his employer.

The company initially made an offer of compensation, but this was rejected as not being commensurate with the seriousness of the man’s injury. After court proceedings were begun, however, a settlement of £17,500 in compensation was agreed.

Nuclear Plant Worker Wins £35,000

A manual worker at a nuclear waste plant has won £35,000 in compensation for injuries he sustained as a result of working with vibrating tools.

The unnamed 49-year-old was a process worker at the Sellafield nuclear plant, where he had worked with vibrating tools since 1992. In 2003, he was diagnosed with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a condition which causes muscle weakness and numbness in the hands.

Eventually, the man’s condition became so bad that he was left with a restricted grip and had to undergo four operations. After his diagnosis, he was moved to a different department in the plant and is now able to carry out only restricted duties.

Because of his condition, he is no longer able to use his hands efficiently and still suffers from pain, especially in bed at night and during poor weather.

The man brought a personal injury claim against his employer, which had failed to warn him of the danger of the continued use of vibrating hand tools. The Sellafield plant did not admit liability for his injuries, but agreed to pay him compensation of £35,000.

Employers have a duty to monitor the health and safety of their workers and, if necessary, to change their working conditions to prevent harm. The risk of permanent injury associated with the repeated use of vibrating machinery is a known risk, first identified as such over 30 years ago.

Five-Figure Compensation for Sisters of Asbestos Victim

After a four-year legal battle, the seven sisters of a Plymouth woman killed by an asbestos-related disease have won a five-figure sum in damages from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Beverley McKnight was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, in 2005 and died aged 46 just over a year later. The disease takes a long time to develop and it is often difficult to identify the symptoms. Once diagnosed, the outlook for mesothelioma sufferers is generally bleak as the vast majority die within a short time – typically 6 to 12 months – of diagnosis.

As a child, Ms McKnight had been inadvertently exposed to asbestos by her father, Albert Snow, who worked as a boiler maker and welder at Devonport Dockyard in Plymouth and often came home covered in the deadly substance. The children were all exposed to asbestos when they hugged their father and when they sat watching television with him. Before his death in 2002 from an aneurysm, Mr Snow was diagnosed with pleural plaques – small areas of fibrosis in the lungs that are caused by exposure to asbestos fibres.

The MoD eventually admitted liability for Ms McKnight’s exposure to asbestos and agreed a five-figure sum in settlement.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) estimates that 4,000 people in the UK die each year as a result of asbestos exposure. Mesothelioma is often diagnosed 30 or 40 years after the original exposure and it is thought that the number of cases will peak over the next ten years.

Information on the dangers and management of asbestos in the workplace can be found on the HSE website.

Injured Rail Worker Receives £32,000

A rail worker whose wrist and arm were fractured in an accident at work has won £32,000 in damages.

The unnamed man was injured when a cleaner lost control of a floor cleaning machine. The machine ran into one of his colleagues, who collided with some other equipment and caused the man to fall.

Due to the extent of his injuries, the man was off work for five months, during which time his family had to help him with his personal care and housework. Even after months of physiotherapy, the man has been left with restricted movement in his arm and is unable to return to maintenance work. He incurred serious financial losses as a result of his time off work and his inability to return to his job.

A claim was made against the man’s employers on the ground that they had not provided the cleaner with adequate training to enable the safe use of the machine. An offer of compensation was made, but this was rejected as being too low given the circumstances of the case. Court proceedings were commenced, following which the company agreed to increase its offer of compensation to £32,000.

£23,300 for Asbestos-Related Claim

A former pipe fitter who worked for Michelin Tyre plc has been awarded £23,300 in compensation after he developed a respiratory disease from exposure to asbestos in the workplace.

Roy Ibbs was employed by Michelin between 1969 and 1985, during which time the air at work was often filled with asbestos dust. He has since developed asbestosis, an inflammatory condition of the lungs caused by long-term or heavy exposure to asbestos, which leaves him short of breath. Because of his condition, Mr Ibbs is no longer able to play an active role in family life.

People who know they have been exposed to asbestos live with the fear that they are at risk of developing mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer of the lining of the lungs, which can take 40 years or so to develop. The outlook for those diagnosed with this virulent form of cancer is generally poor because the disease is usually far advanced by the time symptoms appear.

When his claim against his former employer was brought, the judge found that Mr Ibbs had been exposed to asbestos whilst carrying out maintenance work on pipes lagged with the deadly substance.

Mr Ibbs was offered £20,000 to settle the matter out of court but decided to proceed with his claim. In court, Michelin argued that the level of compensation should be set at around £12,000, but on hearing the evidence the judge awarded Mr Ibbs £23,300.

The HSE website contains information on the law relating to managing and working with asbestos.

Injured Welder Wins Right to Compensation

A welder who suffered a serious brain injury in a tragic workplace accident has won the right to compensation at the High Court.

The accident happened when Mark Downs, 39, was walking along a designated walkway on the factory floor where he worked for Hadee Engineering Ltd. in Sheffield. A sheet of metal, which was being manoeuvred using a tandem lift, swung out of position, knocking Mr Downs against a skip. He suffered a fractured skull, fractures to both eye sockets and a serious brain injury. He had to be resuscitated twice on the journey to the hospital.

After undergoing a 16-hour operation to have titanium plates inserted into his skull, and months of rehabilitation, Mr Downs is blind and paralysed down the left side of his body.

When the claim was brought, the company refused to accept full liability. However, the judge at Sheffield High Court found that it was 100 per cent liable for the injuries to Mr Downs.

The company was found to have breached a number of health and safety regulations, including failing to carry out a risk assessment, not providing adequate training for one of the crane drivers and carrying out operations without a supervisor present.

Now that the extent of the company’s liability for Mr Downs’ injuries has been established, the exact amount of the compensation award will be calculated. This will cover the cost of speech and language therapy, occupational therapy and Mr Downs’ other care and rehabilitation needs.

£4,000 Compensation for Hearing Loss

Exposure to high noise levels can cause permanent hearing loss or tinnitus.

A former plant operator recently received £4,000 in compensation for damage to his hearing caused by frequent working in a noisy environment.

Albert Shaw, 72, worked for a construction company, operating noisy machinery. When he first started working for his employer, in 1968, the mobile construction equipment he drove wasn’t fitted with a driver’s cab. Even when these were introduced, Mr Shaw described the noise inside the cab as ‘incredible’.

It wasn’t until 1982 that Mr Shaw and his colleagues were provided with ear protection. Unfortunately, by then the damage to his hearing had already been done.

Like most people who suffer hearing loss over time, Mr Shaw didn’t notice it at first because the process is so gradual. Eventually, his family pointed out to him that he was speaking very loudly on the telephone and had the volume of his television turned up very high. He now finds it difficult to have ordinary conversations and wears headphones to watch television.

Once his ex-employer’s insurance company had been identified, a personal injury claim was commenced and Mr Shaw received £4,000 in compensation for his injury.

The laws on the control of exposure to noise in the workplace have been tightened up over the years. Employers now have a clear duty to comply with the standards laid down by the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005, and to assess and control the risks of environmental noise that cannot be eliminated. Employees who are likely to be exposed to noise must be provided with information and training on the attendant risks and informed of the steps that can be taken to minimise them.

Information on how to spot the early signs of noise induced hearing loss can be found on the website of Deafness Research UK.

Widow Wins Asbestos-Related Claim

The widow of a factory worker has won an interim settlement of £50,000 after her husband died of an asbestos-related disease.

Alan Bickle, 58, worked for over 30 years for a cigarette filter manufacturer, until he was made redundant seven years ago. During his working life he was exposed to asbestos.

Five years after he left the company, Mr Bickle started to experience pain in his right lung. A scan revealed that he was suffering from mesothelioma, a relatively rare incurable cancer of the lining of the lung.

When asbestos fibres enter the body, they can cause healthy cells to mutate into cancerous cells. These can lie dormant for many years before a victim shows any signs of illness. It is not unusual for the beginning stages of mesothelioma to appear 30 years or so after the initial exposure.

In the later stages of the disease Mr Bickle suffered greatly and was afraid to go to bed in case he died there.

Just a year after his diagnosis, Mr Bickle died and his wife pursued the claim against his former employer to win justice for her husband.

Although the company initially denied liability, it decided not to defend the claim just minutes before the case was due to be heard. The High Court ordered that it make an interim payment of £50,000 to Mrs Bickle, with the full value of her claim to be determined at a future date.

£25,000 for Workplace Back Injury

A man whose back was seriously injured in a warehouse accident has won £25,000 in compensation.

The man was using an order picking truck when the accident happened. His vehicle was stationary when one driven by a colleague smashed into him, resulting in the injury.

The incident was caught on CCTV, which showed that the man’s colleague was clearly at fault.

The man required long-term physiotherapy as well as chiropractic treatment. For several months after the accident he was unable to return to work and eventually he had no choice but to change his job.

A claim was brought against the man’s former employer on the ground that it was vicariously responsible for the negligence of the employee who caused the accident. Although the company admitted liability for what happened, it was slow to make any offer of compensation and so court proceedings were commenced.

Before the case was heard, however, the company agreed to pay a £25,000 settlement in compensation for the man’s injuries and loss of earnings as well as for his treatment, care and medication costs.

Call Handler Receives £100,000 for Hearing Disorders

A call handler has won over £100,000 in compensation after she developed severe hearing problems and was forced to give up her job.

Beverly Thompson, 48, worked from home as a call handler for the AA. The company gave her a new headset in late 2005 and it was shortly after this that she began to experience hearing problems.

She reported the fact that the volume on her headset was too loud and she had no means of reducing it. Her employer told her that there was a solution in place. No replacement was ever provided, however. A few months later, she noticed that she could hear what she thought was a hissing noise on the telephone line, but her husband couldn’t hear it and suggested that maybe her hearing was damaged. She also began to suffer with pain in her ears.

After visiting her doctor, Mrs Thompson was diagnosed with a range of hearing disorders. In addition to the pain, she found she was suffering from severe tinnitus and hearing loss.

Her doctor advised that continued use of the headset could further damage her hearing and so Mrs Thompson was obliged to give up her job in order to prevent this happening.

After bringing a claim against her former employer, Mrs Thompson received an out-of-court settlement of £105,000. The AA did not, however, admit liability for her injuries. It described her case as one involving a unique set of circumstances and stated that its equipment conforms to the relevant standards and is routinely checked.

Although it is easy to diagnose, noise induced hearing loss is an irreversible injury and it is normally not noticed by the injured person until it is too late.

Call handlers are sometimes exposed to ‘acoustic shock’, a term used in connection with incidents involving exposure to short duration, high frequency, high intensity sounds through a telephone headset, and some have claimed to have experienced a range of symptoms as a result. However, no direct link has, as yet, been found between the two.

The Health and Safety Executive has useful guidance entitled ’Protect Your Hearing or Lose it’.

 

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