A council worker who suffered permanent damage to his eye in a workplace accident has received £30,000 in compensation after help from his trade union, UNISON.

Jason Symmonds, 41, from Pencoed, Bridgend, needed surgery after an industrial pressure hose hit him in his right eye, splitting his eye ball and causing him to suffer a detached iris.

As part of his role as a mechanic for Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council Jason was asked to look at the pressure hose.

Unknown to him the hose section of the machine was switched on so when he turned on the machine’s pump the hose flicked up and hit him. The hose was later found to be defective.

His injuries meant he had to take six months off work and then needed an additional week off work later to undergo surgery to remove a cataract which had formed over his eye.

Ongoing problems with eye

Surgery has improved his sight but he still has a dilated pupil which means he cannot drive at night. He also has problems seeing objects up close meaning he has difficulties reading and judging distances. Glasses do not resolve his sight problems but he has to wear sunglasses when he is outdoors, even if it is not sunny.

Following the accident Mr Symmonds contacted his trade union, UNISON, for advice. UNISON instructed its lawyers, Thompsons Solicitors, to investigate a claim for compensation.

The council admitted 85% liability and settled the claim out of court.

Mr Symmonds, who still works at the council but now in a supervisory role, said: “The weeks following the accident were extremely difficult. I wasn’t allowed to lie down to sleep because of the risk of blood developing at the back of my eye ball. For two weeks I couldn’t see anything through the damaged eye and I feared the worse.

“My sight has improved since the operation but it will never be the same again. Things take me longer to do because I can’t judge distances and I find it difficult to see things close up.”

Accident caused by defective equipment

Margaret Thomas, Head of UNISON in Wales added:

“Mr Symmonds suffered a lot of pain as a result of this accident, as well as lasting damage to his eye. Clearly a more robust system for checking equipment should have been in place. Employers have a duty to make sure their staff are safe at work. The council where Jason worked must review its procedures to make sure the same thing does not happen again.”

Clare Nash from Thompsons Solicitors said: “Mr Symmonds very nearly lost his eye in this accident caused by defective equipment which should have been inspected and repaired by a specialist company. A proper system of checks by the council would have avoided Mr Symmonds having to cope with a sight impairment for the rest of his life.”