The claim was brought with the assistance of Unite the Union and Thompsons Solicitors.

On the 13th of August 2004, Mr Eric Palmer, 56 of Mold, Clwyd, was instructed by a senior colleague to help fix a fault on a machine which separated concrete and water from sand and aggregate mix. Mr Palmer advised that the machine should be attended to by an experienced fitter, but his colleague ignored the suggestion and insisted that he carry on with the task.

As Mr Palmer and another colleague attempted to remedy the fault, Mr Palmer’s right hand became trapped in moving parts in the machine causing severe injuries as well as shock. As a result he underwent extensive medical treatment, including surgery. As well as preventing him from working as an electrician, the injuries to Mr Palmer have affected other aspects of his life such as playing music and gardening.

Andy Richards, Regional Secretary Unite the Union, said: “Mr Palmer should not have been exposed to equipment which he had little or no knowledge of. This case highlights the dangers of instructing people to carry out work when clearly it should be the role of someone who has the right experience and authority.”

Ken Jones, Mr Palmer’s representative at Thompsons Solicitors in Liverpool, said: “Laing O’Rourke failed on several fronts to protect Eric. He was clearly put in a position of danger and was given no guidance whatsoever as to how to handle the machine. Eric himself recognised that attending to the machine wasn’t the right thing to do. Unfortunately he paid a very high price for agreeing to do it.”

Commenting, Mr Palmer said: “I suffered physical and mental injuries as a result of the accident. Even the simple things which previously I would have taken in my stride, like building a pond in the garden which has stood unfinished for three years, are difficult, if not impossible. Even now I find it difficult to sleep and have nightmares about the machine and what happened.”