A routine shift at a glass bottle manufacturing plant ended in a horrific ordeal for ex-soldier Liam McLaughlin, a veteran of the first Gulf war.
Molten glass at a temperature of around 500 degrees centigrade spilled from the production line, and as he tried to clear the jam his ‘fireproof’ overalls provided by his employer burst into flames.
Screaming in pain he staggered to the end of the production line and used a hose for cleaning the floor to douse the flames.
Then Mr McLaughlin who was working a night-shift on his own climbed into a sink in the washroom and ran cold-water over his badly burned left leg till fellow employees found him badly shocked and barely conscious 10 minutes later.
Now Mr McLaughlin 37 of Lewis Court, Alloa has won compensation running to six figures after his employers, O-I Manufacturing settled his compensation claim out of court.
His lawyer Jayne Crawford of Thompsons Solicitors slammed the multi-national O-I Manufacturing, who took over the former United Glass Alloa bottling plant where the accident happened, for their ‘heartless’ treatment of Mr McLaughlin.
She said: “The company was totally heartless in trying to argue that Mr McLaughlin was partly to blame for his terrible accident, and then refusing to settle till the 11th hour.
“They knew that he is still suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, but their stalling tactics meant he had to keep reliving the accident in his mind in preparation for giving evidence in court.
“They also knew that independent tests on the supposedly fireproof overalls they supplied Mr McLaughlin showed they were anything but and that was why they caught fire and caused his injuries.
“His physical injuries are healing well, but his ordeal and the post traumatic stress have left him a changed man, and had a major impact on his family life”.
Mr McLaughlin said: “I still have nightmares and terrible flash-backs. I see myself being totally engulfed in flames.
“It’s been so bad I have had to stop living with my partner Laura Alexander, 26, and our daughter Katie, 3.
“I couldn’t bear Katie coming into the room and finding me cowering in the corner crying and shaking like a leaf after a nightmare.
“So now I am living with Laura’s mother till my sleep patterns return to normal.
“I will never forget the shock and then the pain when I looked down and saw the overalls I thought were fireproof bursting into flames.
“I saw a lot of terrible things when I was serving with the Royal Signals in the first Gulf War, but nothing prepared for this.
“However the fact that the case is now settled is a huge weight off my mind and I have had my first good night’s sleep since it all happened two and a half years ago”.