A machine operator from Merthyr Tydfil whose right thumb was seriously injured using a seamer machine has secured £11,000 damages. Gerald O’Reilly secured the compensation with the support of his trade union UNITE, and their personal injury specialists Thompsons Solicitors.

Mr O’Reilly, aged 58, works as a machine operator for Impress Merthyr Tydfil Limited. On the day of his accident, he was clearing a jam of cans on the bottom seamer machine. As he took hold of one can he realised that it was damaged and therefore very sharp. In no time at all it had cut straight through the gloves he was wearing.

Lack of proper hand protection contributed to injury

Mr O’Reilly explains: “The machine severed the digital nerve in my right thumb; the pain was excruciating. If I’d been given the correct type of industrial gloves, the can wouldn’t have cut through. I still suffer from pain, numbness, pins and needles and reduced grip which is very frustrating given the work I do, and the fact that I show pedigree Chow dogs.”

Unite regional secretary Andy Richards comments: “Impress Merthyr Tydfil Limited failed to properly maintain the equipment which Mr O’Reilly was working on. The dangerous can and the lack of proper hand protection made the equipment unsafe. We hope this settlement will encourage other employers to sit up and take note and ensure that they are compliant with the various regulations which are there to protect employees like our member Mr O’Reilly.”

Representing Mr O’Reilly, Eamonn McDonough from Thompsons Solicitors in Cardiff comments: “Gerald O’Reilly’s employer Impress was clearly in breach of its duty of care and as a result, he suffered totally unnecessary injuries and financial loss. He had to have many weeks off work initially and due to further symptoms was off work again months later.”