On 16 August 2016, our client, who works as a team leader for the Co-op group, was injured while at work.
As the team leader, our client must complete various duties, including filling shelves, maintaining waste, and overseeing other staff.
On this particular occasion, our client was cutting meat in the deli using the slicing machine. The machine's blade came into contact with her finger and caused a laceration injury. A flap of skin was hanging off at the tip of her finger. Immediately following the accident, she went to receive first aid and was advised to go to the hospital.
At the hospital, our client was given stitches and a tetanus injection. She then returned two days later to have the wound redressed.
The laceration eventually healed but left our client with lasting effects. Because she is right-handed, our client struggled a great deal with opening cans. Her finger also became very sore in cold weather. She also required help with tasks such as washing her hair, and household tasks took longer to complete.
As part of the claims process, a medical expert examined our client's injury to determine the exact extent of the damage. He confirmed that she'd sustained a flap wound to her right index finger that took two to three weeks to heal. But our client also experienced a loss of sensation in the tip of her finger which, unfortunately, the medical expert confirmed was likely to be permanent.
Even though she didn't lose any earning (as she was only absent from work for one day), she did incur travel expenses from travelling to and from the hospital in the car.
The Co-op worker's union, USDAW, referred her to Thompsons in September 2016, and our work accident solicitors took on the case, helping our client claim compensation for her injury due to unsafe work equipment.
Slicing machines usually have handles that allow for the meat to be moved back and forth while keeping the user's hands a safe distance away from the blade. However, in this case, the handle was broken, and our client had to grip the machine much closer to the blade, increasing her chances of coming into contact with it. There were also no risk assessments carried out regarding the operation of this clearly risky machine. There had even been a similar incident where another employee injured themselves using the machine, but no changes were made regarding its use.
We believed that the employer was in breach of several workplace safety regulations; they had failed to comply with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1996, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, and the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.
Our client's employers decided to carry out their own investigations. After doing so, they admitted liability.
The defenders put forward an initial offer that we felt was too low. Although it was in line with the award a court would likely make, our experienced work accident solicitors still felt that, as our client's symptoms were permanent, we should be able to claim a higher amount.
We were successfully able to do so, and negotiated a sum of £5,000 for our client's finger wound, settling the case on 16 August 2017.