A Unite the Union member has been awarded compensation after a six year medical and legal battle following an accident involving a nail gun.

Patrick Meek, 60, a joiner from Gloucestershire was injured while making wooden pallets in the summer of 2007 because he hadn’t been trained to safely and securely stabilise the wood.

Nail ricocheted through the wood into his finger which needed amputating

When Patrick fired the nail gun into the corner of a pallet the nail hit a knot in the wood and ricocheted through the wood into the joint of his left index finger.

He was taken to hospital where he had an operation to remove the nail and to clean away the damaged tissue from his finger. An intensive course of physiotherapy followed to help repair the damage done to his finger.

However, three months after the accident Patrick suffered a post-operative infection which required further surgery. And two years after the accident a fourth operation saw Patrick having the damaged finger amputated.

He had to undergo eight corrective operations

The amputation process itself resulted in significant nerve damage to the knuckle bone and he underwent four further rounds of surgery to help correct the damage, taking his total number of operations to eight.

“That accident put an end to my working life as a skilled joiner,” said Patrick.

“It has been an extremely traumatic six years. One amputated finger, eight rounds of surgery at three hospitals and I’m still suffering. The distress of the ongoing medical implications means I now take anti-depressants, and I will be on pain killers for the rest of my life.

“I have always been a man who has worked using my hands, and the loss of my finger and the lasting damage means I am reduced to claiming incapacity benefits, which is not how I envisaged ending my working career.”

Improperly trained to use work equipment

Patrick contacted the Unite Legal Service who instructed Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim on his behalf. Patrick’s employers failed to admit liability and the case went all the way to trial where Patrick was awarded a significant sum.

Christine Starling, Regional Officer from Unite the Union, said: “This is another example of an employer hanging their employees out to dry. No one could argue that Patrick was not seriously injured by this incident or that his employers did not have a part to play in allowing it to happen.

“We’ve stuck with our member in a long-fought battle and we’re pleased that we were able to use our expertise to get him the result he deserved.”