A plastic bottle factory worker left with a 90% reduction in his ability to taste and smell following a workplace accident has received compensation.

The Unite the Union member from Wrexham was initially injured when his hand was dragged into a bottle labelling machine at Artenius PET Packaging UK Ltd in Wrexham as he tried to fix it. He was injured again when he fainted as he waited for first aid.

He had opened its door to gain access and thought that once he did so it would be deactivated, when, as he put his hand in, the motors started up dragging his thumb in.

He cut his thumb and broke his thumb bone as well as having the nail ripped off. The thumb needed stitches.

Head injury sustained as a result of accident

The 51-year-old had to walk to a first aid station and then fainted whilst he waited for the first aider to arrive. As he fell he hit his head on the factory floor and suffered concussion.

The concussion developed into headaches and he was off work for three weeks whilst he recovered from all of his injuries. The mechanical technician, who has worked with Artenius for 21 years began to notice a loss of sense of smell and taste whilst he was off work and was eventually diagnosed with a head injury affecting his olfactory nerve.

Although he has been able to return to his job and his thumb has healed the nail has not regrown and he has been left with reduced sensation in it.

The reduced sense of taste and smell means he has lost enjoyment in his food.

Thompsons Solicitors made claim for compensation

Following the accident his trade union, Unite the Union, instructed Thompsons Solicitors to investigate a claim for compensation.

Thompsons argued that Artenius should have ensured that the moving parts of the machine were shut down whilst it was being maintained, that guards should have been put in place to avoid body parts being caught in the machine and also that first aid should have been provided promptly after the accident to prevent further injury.

Artenius admitted liability and settled the claim out of court.

The member said: “I was in shock after I injured my thumb and fainted as the first aider was opening the first aid room door, I hit my head against the factory floor and it was in fact that second injury which has had the most significant impact on my life.

“I began to notice the loss of taste and smell within a few days and it still continues. It makes it difficult to enjoy meals, they all taste bland. If I’m looking after my granddaughter I can no longer smell if she needs her nappy changed. You take your senses for granted until they are gone.”

Catalogue of health and safety errors

Paul Finegan regional secretary of Unite the Union added: “Our member should never have been able to access the inner workings of a machine whilst it was still live. Having failed him on that front the employers then failed to get him first aid promptly which led to a further and more serious injury when he fainted. We hope lessons have been learnt on a number of different levels.”

Helen Templeton from Thompsons Solicitors said: “A catalogue of health and safety errors led to our client suffering more than one injury. The employers negligence has left an employee with an ongoing physical injury but also a more serious long term impact on many aspects of his daily life.”