A Somerset engineer whose foot was seriously injured after a two-tonne machine he was moving collapsed, has spoken of his life-changing accident.

Chris Tongs, 65, was moving the heavy plastic moulding machine with a colleague at Avalon Plastics in Glastonbury when part of the platform they were loading it onto, known as ‘loading skates,’ collapsed under the weight.

The multi-skilled engineer, who maintained machinery throughout the plant, said: “It all happened within the blink of an eye. The machine was sat on four discs, one of which slipped and crushed my foot.

“The disc was being held down by the weight of the machine. I was only able to get my foot out once my colleague had jacked the machine back up. My foot was trapped for a matter of seconds, but it felt like a lifetime. I was lucky to not lose a foot in this accident. The quick thinking of my colleague saved me from even more life-changing injury.”

Chris was treated at hospital for significant injuries to his swollen left foot, as well as to his hip, which was hit by the machine. The pain caused by the accident left him no choice but to take early retirement, and he continues to suffer from arthritis from his waist down.

Chris Tongs was forced into retirement following his injury.

Chris, who has been a Unite the union member since he was 16, turned to Unite Legal Services and Thompsons Solicitors for legal guidance. With their support, he was able to secure more than £60,000 compensation for the pain he went through, his lost earnings and the medical treatment he needed.

“Without Unite and Thompsons’ help, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to even start this claim, let alone have been able to afford the pain management treatment that it enabled me to have and that has made my day-to-day life more bearable,” Mr Tongs said.

"Contractors with the correct training and equipment should have been employed to move this vast piece of machinery but instead, the employers tried to cut corners and put Chris and his colleagues in serious danger, for which he paid the price."

Stuart Davies, Unite South West legal officer

“It was only when I involved Unite Legal Services and Thompsons Solicitors that my employer accepted blame for having failed to risk assess the job and failed to provide the practical support that would have significantly lowered the chance of this accident happening at all,” he said.

Stuart Davies, Unite regional legal officer in the South West, said: “Chris may have been a highly-trained engineer but that doesn’t make him a specialist in manual handling. Contractors with the correct training and equipment should have been employed to move this vast piece of machinery but instead, the employers tried to cut corners and put Chris and his colleagues in serious danger, for which he paid the price.”