A Unite the Union member who has been left with a three inch scar on his face after a workplace accident has received substantial compensation after help from Unite Legal Services.

The 60-year-old from Dagenham needed three operations, including reconstructive surgery, after he was hit in the face with a high pressure jetting hose.

He was using the hose to unblock a sewer at a council house in Hornchurch as part of his role for the drainage team for Morrisons Facilities Services, owned by Anglian Water Services.

The hose lifted off the ground when it was switched on, striking his left cheek and leaving a huge hole. His back teeth were also damaged in the accident.

He and his colleagues had never received training on how to use the hose safely.

Accident caused disfiguring scar

He underwent numerous operations but has been left with a disfiguring scar running from his nose to under his chin. Scar tissue means he has a lump in his mouth, his left cheek feels permanently numb and the tear ducts in his left eye are damaged meaning it waters constantly.

The psychological effects of the accident led to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and he was medically retired.

Following the accident he was supported in his claim for compensation by his trade union, Unite the Union.

Unite Legal Services instructed Thompsons Solicitors to act on the members behalf.

Anglian Water Services admitted liability and settled the claim out of court for more than £145,000.

Improvements have been made since the accident

Since the accident his colleagues have been given training on using the pressure hoses. They have also been provided with hard hats and a full face visor.

The Unite member said: “During the last four years I’ve come to terms with my injuries. It still feels like I have a boiled egg in my mouth and the left side is numb - like I’ve just been at the dentist. I’ve been told that it will always be like this and I’ve learnt to deal with it.

“The accident made me extremely anxious and the thought of working with a pressure hose again was terrifying. In the end I was medically retired. At 60 I know that my chances of finding another job are slim and I worry about my future employability.”

Accident could have been avoided

Peter Kavanagh regional secretary at Unite the Union said: “This accident could have been avoided had Anglian Water Services ensured all its staff members were trained on using the pressure hose. In his four years with the company he’d never been told the way he was using the hose was dangerous. This is an example of how important it is for employers to train their staff and then make regular checks on the way their employees are handling equipment.”

“This is a success for Unite Legal Services and all our members should take some comfort from knowing that our legal services are at hand to act for members.”

“Unite Legal Services would like to thank Thompsons Solicitors who acted as panel solicitor for our member.”

Anna Barnett from Thompsons Solicitors added: “Our client had to give up a job that he enjoyed and planned on continuing in until he retired. His physical injuries were appalling but he was able to come to terms with them. Unfortunately his psychological symptoms fundamentally meant he was unable to return to work, forcing his retirement. At 60 he was left with little prospect of securing alternative work. His employer could have avoided this accident with training, assessments of the risks and a safer system of work.”