A Unite the Union member from Hartlepool who lost part of his finger and suffered nerve damage after his hand was trapped in a faulty machine at work has been awarded more than £25,000 in compensation.

Gordon Cranney, a production operative at TMD Friction, was trying to release a jammed brake pad when his hand was trapped.

The power to the machine should have automatically disconnected when it was opened leaving him free to manually release the jam but a safety mechanism failed and a pad he was working with was pulled inside, trapping his hand.

Sever nerve damage caused part of middle finger to be amputated

The 55-year-old from Hartlepool needed a skin graft after suffering severe burns to three fingers on his left hand and had to have part of the middle finger of his left hand amputated because of severe nerve damage. He was unable to work for more than six months and has been left with a lifelong disability.

His employer, a global manufacturer of brake friction material for the automotive industry, tried to deny the machine’s broken safety mechanism could have caused such a serious injury and Gordon, who had worked at the company for 15 years, contacted his trade union, Unite the Union, for support.

Unite member had been improperly trained to use the machine

Unite Legal Services secured £25,000 in damages on Mr Cranney's behalf but that was only after rejecting TMD Friction’s original settlement offer and facing down an argument by the company that Mr Cranney was partly liable for the accident when in fact he had been improperly trained to use the machine and they had been aware of the fault.

Gordon said: “Even now, three years after it happened, I am constantly reminded of my disability. Having half a finger means I struggle to grip things, feel numbness in what is left of my finger and get quite a lot of pain if I accidentally knock it.

“I’m back at work now, but I’m worried about my future job prospects because I often drop bolts and screws which people could see as carelessness when in fact it’s down to my disability. I’m glad that I’ve had Unite behind me throughout this process.”

Any attempt to shift blame onto the injured worker is unacceptable

Karen Reay from Unite the Union commented: “Mr Cranney will be disadvantaged for life due to an accident which could have been avoided. Maintaining work equipment and ensuring that staff are properly trained, especially when operating machinery should be bread and butter to a big employer like this and their attempt to shift blame onto the injured worker is unacceptable.

“This Government is actively seeking to water down the kind of health and safety regulations needed to prevent these types of accidents. Unite is committed to challenging the government and any employers who seek to evade their responsibilities.

“I’m glad we were able to successfully conclude this case for our member, and I would like to thank Thompsons Solicitors for their involvement.”