"Castleford worker fears for future after losing fingers in machinery" Asons Solicitors Comment

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According to the HSE, because of a badly-guarded machine, a worker had two fingers pulled from their sockets as he cleaned a silo. (1)

As a result of this accident, a Castleford man, Kevin Sharp, 39, is now officially classed as 50 per cent disabled. As a result of the incident, which took place at the plastic recycling firm Regain Polymers Ltd, in Allerton Bywater, Mr. Sharp has had to have ten operations on his right hand. (1)

The incident, on 21 December 2012, was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted the company for safety failings, at Leeds Magistrates’ Court on the 29th November 2013. (Reference: HS29112013) (1)

The court heard that Mr Sharp had been instructed to clean a silo, which contained a large stirrer to blend plastic flake. A chute below the silo had a metal slide valve, however a switch on the valve was broken, and a piece of metal had been attached to a contact of the switch. This meant the stirrer could still rotate if the slide valve was open. (1)

When Mr Sharp opened the valve to clean the silo, the chute had become blocked with compacted plastic flake. As he reached into the silo in an attempt to clear the blockage, his right hand made contact with the moving stirrer – two rotating angled blades. (1)

His middle and ring fingers were instantly pulled out, complete with attached tendons; the skin was also torn from his index finger, and his little finger was also severely damaged. Unfortunately, surgeons were unable to reattach the severed fingers. (1)

As a result of his injuries, doctors informed Mr Sharp that he is unlikely to be able to undertake manual work again. (1)

The HSE told the court that Regain Polymers, which employs around 100 workers at the Castleford site, had failed to make sure there was effective protection on the machine, to prevent workers from accessingdangerous moving parts. (1)

Commenting on the accident, Thomas Fairclough, Asons Executive at Asons Solicitors stated that:

“Mr Sharp will have to live with these injuries for the rest of his life. Any compensation awarded, as a result of this accident, can’t make up for the severe injuries it has caused.

“This accident at work could have been easily avoided, had the correct health and safety measures been followed - in this case they weren’t.

“The firm should have carefully considered the consequences of this particular task, and assessed the related risks to workers.

“Here at Asons, we strongly believe that no person should suffer serious injuries because of negligence from an employer. Those who have experienced similar working conditions should not hesitate to pursue health and safety compensation.”

Regain Polymers Ltd of Newton Lane, Allerton Bywater, Castleford, near Wakefield, was fined £8,000, and ordered to pay £634 in court costs, after admitting a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. (1)

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Kate Dixon said:

“Mr Sharp is still struggling to come to terms with this life-changing injury. He is right handed so basic tasks such as writing, cutting up food – many things you take for granted – now cause him considerable difficulty.

“Although some effort had been made by Regain Polymers to address access to the silo stirrer, it was not adequate and was easily defeated.

“Companies should ensure that the measures they take to guard dangerous parts of machines are effective and maintained in working condition. Visual and functional checks of machinery and guarding arrangements need to be carried out and documented on a regular basis.

“Had these measures been in place, Mr Sharp may not have suffered the injury that will now affect him for the rest of his life.”

In a victim statement to court, Mr Sharp, who lives with his partner and has four children, said:

“I can just about write, but it’s like being a 13 year-old again – it’s not right neat and I can’t hold a pen for very long. I used to go ten-pin bowling all the time with my son, play pool and snooker but I can’t do that anymore.

“There’s lots I used to do and now can’t – gardening, learning to drive, golf, as well as everyday things. I can’t even cut my meat up – it’s a bit embarrassing when my 13 year-old son has to do it for me.

“Since it happened, I’ve struggled to sleep and had nightmares…I had lots of infections in my hand…I have to take tablets for phantom pains in the missing fingers – it still feels like I’ve got them. I’m waiting for another operation for my little finger to see if they can get some more use back, and they’ll do another skin graft on my hand at the same time.

“I feel as though my life is over and I’ll never be able to work again. I don’t know what I’ll be able to do in the future – who is going to set me on?”

If you, or someone you know, have suffered, then you may be able to make an accident at work claim. Asons Solicitors deal with construction related personal injury claims, and industrial diseases such as occupational asthma and vibration white finger, you can contact them on: 01204 521 133 or you can fill out their claim form at http://www.asons.co.uk.

1)    Castleford worker fears for future after losing fingers in machinery - http://press.hse.gov.uk/2013/castleford-worker-fears-for-future-after-losing-fingers-in-machinery/ - HSE November 2013

About Asons Solicitors:
Asons Solicitors is a Bolton-based law practice that specialises in personal injury and industrial disease claims. Founded by brothers Imran Akram and Kamran Akram, Asons Solicitors has developed to become a young and dynamic law firm that delivers practical solutions to clients in times of difficulty. Their continued focus on their staff has seen them awarded with the Investors in People “Gold Award”; which is reflected in the professional and personable approach they take in working with clients. They strive to grow and to develop, and their supportiveness and attention to detail ensures that their clients use them time and again.

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Imran Akram
Asons Solicitors

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