A GMB member who suffered a broken jaw and lost seven teeth in a workplace accident has received £47,500 in compensation.

John McFarlane, 42, from Washington was hit in the mouth by a tool called a warwick after he was forced to work on his own in his new job after just two days of a promised seven day training programme.

John was working at Unipres car parts manufacturer in Sunderland on a temporary basis for Blue Arrow when the accident happened in March 2008.

He had been told to secure chains to storage pallets in the back of a lorry on his own. He was using the tool to tighten the chains as he had been taught to do during the previous two days but it wasn’t the correct type for the job and when he applied pressure it flipped back, hitting him in the mouth and jaw.

He broke his jaw and immediately lost four teeth. A further three teeth were lost after they failed to respond to treatment. For up to four months he was only able to eat soft food and he lost more than a stone in weight.

He has now been provided with false dentures but has been told he will face years of painful dental work including a bone graft which will cost around £36,000.

Thompsons Solicitors pursue claim for compensation

Following the accident he contacted his trade union the GMB which instructed its lawyers Thompsons Solicitors to pursue a claim for compensation.

Thompsons argued that John should have received his full formal training before being asked to work on his own.

Unipres admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.

John, who now works as an HGV driver for Asda, said: “Losing my teeth was the most painful thing I have ever been through. I was also extremely embarrassed having to work and mix with people having no top teeth. I now have a denture but it makes it difficult to eat and talk.

“With this compensation I look forward to having my teeth corrected but I recognize that it will mean many months of painful treatment.

“I had been advised by the union to keep on my membership despite working on temporary contracts and that was good advice. Without the union’s help I would not have claimed compensation.”

Michael Hopper from the GMB said: “Temporary staff should be provided with full training in the job to allow them to carry out each task as safely as possible. Mr McFarlane was rushed into carrying out work before he was fully trained and given the wrong equipment which, with his very limited experience, he was unable to appreciate. His accident has proven costly for Unipres who could have easily avoided this from happening had it taken the time to train Mr McFarlane properly.”

David Mole from Thompsons Solicitors added: “It is simply unacceptable that Mr McFarlane was allowed to work on his own after he had been told he would need seven days training for the job. Clearly he hadn’t been taught the correct processes and as a result he suffered this extremely painful accident with significant long term consequences.”