Negligence at a Welsh mine has led to a £105,000 pay out for a collier who had to be medically retired after a falling stone broke a vertebrae in his neck. The man, from Rhondda, South Wales, secured the compensation with the support of his trade union – the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) – and their personal injury specialists Thompsons Solicitors.

Alun Finney worked as a collier for Energybuild Limited at their Aberpergwm Colliery. Because the colliery failed to ensure that the exposed coal face was properly supported before boring, Mr Finney was struck by a falling stone on the back of the head and sustained a fractured vertebra in his cervical spine.

Mr Finney, aged 55, explains: “We were boring a coal face ready for charging and firing. As I bent down to pick up the drill bit off the floor, a large piece of stone fell, striking me on the back of my neck. I was wearing my miner’s cap at the time. My body immediately felt numb; I had no sensation and I couldn’t move. I was taken to hospital and told I’d broken a vertebra. Since then I’ve suffered ongoing pain and stiffness in my back and neck, as well as headaches, blurred vision and flashbacks to the accident.”

“The accident had a huge impact on my life. My contract was terminated, and my injuries mean that I can’t return to heavy work which is all I’ve ever known. There are very few jobs out there for somebody at my age with no experience who is just looking for light work. I am not even being considered for interview which is very disheartening.”

Injury at Work caused miner to retire

Wayne Thomas, General Secretary, NUM South Wales, comments: “Had it not been for the accident at work, our member Alun Finney would have continued to work in the mining industry until the normal retirement age of 65 years. Instead, he now faces over 10 years of uncertainty. We hope this serves as a warning to other employers to ensure that the correct health and safety procedures are in place.”

Representing Mr Finney, William Gasson, from Thompsons Solicitors in Cardiff, comments: “Alun Finney holds no formal qualifications save for those as a collier and has always earned a living through manual labour. Due to his injuries, manual work was ruled out so he never returned to work at the colliery following the accident. We are very pleased that his case has settled successfully; the compensation will help to secure his future.”

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