Negligent employer brought to account by GMB20 August 2013
Improperly maintained machine causes permanent finger damage
A machine operator from West Yorkshire has secured £4,000 in compensation from his employer Federal Mogul Ltd thanks to legal support from his union – GMB.
Tony Render, 51, was injured while using a press in 2011 at a factory in Bradford which manufactured hinge pins for the car industry.
The little finger on his left hand became trapped in an old extrusion press which had needed to be manually adjusted between manufacturing batches.
On the day of the accident in October 2011, Tony found that the shutter box he needed to remove from the press to adjust the tooling system was faulty. Once removed from the machine he noticed that the slide in the shutter box was sticking and whilst he was trying to move it manually it shifted and trapped and crushed his little finger.
Left hand became trapped in an old extrusion press
Tony said: “My injury could have been avoided if the shutter box had been properly maintained by my employer. The machine is an older model and is the only one at the factory where you still have to change the tooling over manually.
“While the company has been supportive since my accident and I’m being extra vigilant when operating the press, until the equipment is upgraded there is always the danger this could happen again.”
After being taken to hospital, Tony required surgery to his left hand and although he was able to return to work two days later, his finger has been permanently damaged.
As a member of GMB for more than six years, Tony contacted his union who instructed Thompsons Solicitors to act on his behalf.
Fundamental responsibility for employers to ensure their equipment is safe
Tim Roache, Regional Secretary at GMB Yorkshire and North Derbyshire, added: “Time and again we have members coming to us having experienced a similar situation to Tony. More often than not it’s for the same reason or a combination of them, a lack of investment, interest or maintenance by the employer.
“However, it’s a fundamental responsibility for employers to ensure their equipment is safe for their staff at all times. If they are complacent about this, then they should be prepared to face the consequences.”
Rebecca Hague from Thompsons Solicitors in Leeds said: “This is a case where we relied on the argument of ‘strict liability’. Federal Mogul Ltd initially tried to claim that Tony was in some way responsible because he put his finger inside the shutter box, so should accept a deduction of 20% from any compensation rewarded to him.
"However, we vigorously argued against this and underlined the accountability of employers towards all staff. I’m glad to see that common sense prevailed, with Tony being given the full amount he was rightfully entitled to. Sadly, Government attacks on access to justice including changes brought in under the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act affecting ‘strict liability’ mean that innocent victims such as Tony will find it more difficult to bring their negligent employers to account.”
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