Thompsons Solicitors and Unite Legal Services have secured £5,750 in compensation for a production operative who damaged his hand in an accident at work.

At the time of the accident, the man was employed by Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council in south Wales making double glazed windows and doors.

He was shown just once how to use a machine that cleaned plastic used for welding and then left unsupervised to carry on with the job. The machinery jammed and he attempted to unblock it by placing his hand inside when it turned itself on without warning. Despite pressing the emergency stop button, his right hand was trapped in the moving parts of the machine.

As a result, the operative suffered soft tissue and nerve damage to his hand, particularly affecting the webbing between his thumb and index finger. The accident also made his pre-existing Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome more pronounced.

The operative needed nearly four months off work because of his injury, and four years after the incident he still suffers from nerve damage in his right thumb.

He contacted Unite Legal Services who instructed personal injury specialists, Thompsons Solicitors, to investigate a claim for compensation.

The operative said: “I discovered afterwards that there were known problems with the machine I was attempting to unblock – it had apparently automatically started without prior warning before but my employer hadn’t done anything about this.

“Shockingly my employer even tried to claim that I was somehow responsible for my accident, which, given that I’m the one that is still suffering years later, was pretty frustrating. The bottom line is that I should either of had proper training on the machine or been supervised and it shouldn’t never have been left faulty.”

John T Toner, regional legal officer at Unite the Union, said: “This is a clear example of an employer not taking the necessary time to adequately train staff. Not only was our member left to complete a skilled job without any support but his employer also failed to address the known issues with the machine.

“If a proper risk assessment had been completed then this accident could have been avoided. Thankfully our member had the backing of Unite Legal Services to ensure that he was not left to shoulder any element of blame for what happened, and his employer was held responsible for breaching the most basic of health and safety regulations.”