Damages awarded against Department of Transport for former worker’s hearing damage
Trial Result: The High Court has ruled that the Department of Transport (DfT) is liable to pay compensation to the family of a man who suffered from industrial deafness as a result of working on steam railways in the 1960s.
John Wignall, who died in 2014, was employed from the late 1950s until 1966 as a fireman on the footplate of steam trains, and was struck by industrial deafness in his later years. In a statement before his death, Mr Wignall said the trains were so noisy that he had to shout to be heard by colleagues standing only two feet away.
His lawyers began a damages claim against the government in 2012. His family continued with the claim after Mr Wignall’s death.
On 4 July 2106 at the High Court, Judge Philip Butler ruled the Department of Transport liable to pay compensation to Mr Wignall’s family.
Rejecting arguments that the claim had been brought too late, the judge said it was only late in life that Mr Wignall had made the link between his work on the railways and his deafness. He said British Rail, Mr Wignall’s employer at the time, had ‘guilty knowledge’ of the risk of industrial deafness from 1961 or 1962 onwards, but had not done enough to warn its footplate workers. Comprehensive noise surveys should have been carried out by the middle of 1962 and workers given information and training to protect themselves.
He ruled that Mr Wignall’s lawyers had proved his deafness was, at least in part, due to ‘hazardous noise exposure’ on the railways. He valued the overall claim at £6,000, but ruled that only a relatively small proportion of blame was attributable to British Rail.
LNB News 04/07/2016 188/Lexis Nexis
Lincolnshire firm fined after worker fell 7m from forklift truck
A worker suffered serious injuries when he fell while carrying out maintenance work at a Lincolnshire seafood processing factory, a jury was told.
Virginius Kurselis was standing inside a box held up by a forklift truck when he fell seven metres while painting at the Fishgate Ltd factory at Brookenby near Market Rasen.
Mr Kurselis spent four weeks on hospital and underwent two operations as a result of injuries he received as a result of the fall in July 2013.
His left leg was shattered and his right foot was broken. He also suffered a cracked pelvis and a dislocated right arm.
Robert Stevenson, prosecuting, said that Mr Kurselis was employed as a packer but was asked to paint gutterings and down pipes in preparation for a visit from a customer.
Mr Kurselis initially used a ladder but changed and stood in a box which was lifted by a forklift truck to the required height.
Mr Stevenson said: “Unfortunately the box tipped forward and Mr Kurselis fell.
“Mr Kurselis was employed as a factory operative. His role was as a packer but on the day he was asked to do some painting.
“The company was expecting a visit from a new customer and wanted the building to look more presentable.
“He wasn’t given any training as to how to safely carry out that work.
“There was an absence of any instruction and there was an absence of any supervision.”
Fishgate Ltd of Brookenby Business Park, Binbrook, denied a charge of failing to discharge a duty of health, safety and welfare of an employee.
The firm was convicted by a jury following a short trial and fined £100,000 and ordered to pay £19,032 prosecution costs
The company is currently in administration and was not represented in court.
Recorder Paul Mann QC, passing sentence, said: “Mr Kursilis was given no advice as to how to do this safely and no equipment apart from a tin of paint and a brush.
“This was an accident waiting to happen.
“He was very badly injured. He could so easily have been killed.”
Company fined £8,000 after worker loses fingers fixing a gate
A company has been fined £8,000 with cost of £2,080 following a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation into the loss of an employee’s two middles fingers.
After LKAB Minerals (Richmond) Ltd’s main entrance gate broke, they assigned the worker to fix it, during which both his fingers were severed. The HSE found the company failed to:
• identify the risks of the worker doing this task
• devise safety measures to ensure a safe way of working
• provide information, instruction and training regarding the task
• ensure the workers has the correct supervision and monitoring
LKAB Minerals pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 at the Sheffield Magistrates’ Court.
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BT to pay damages to worker electrocuted by power line
The claimant, cherry picker operator Ian Milroy, was injured by a ‘very high voltage electrocution’ while working as repair hoist operator for BT in August 2009. He and a colleague were checking a fault on a carrier pole, elevated in a cherry picker mounted on the back of a transit van.
While moving the vehicle to allow a horse-rider to pass, Mr Milroy came into contact with the high-voltage power line. He suffered a cardiac arrest and a seizure, along with severe burns, fractures to his back and a brain injury.
He has no memory of the accident, and has since experienced anxiety and depression.
His lawyers sued BT on his behalf, but the company denied blame for the accident.
At a hearing in February 2015, Mr Justice William Davis found BT two-thirds responsible for the accident, and ruled that the training given to Mr Milroy had not been adequate.
On 26 June 2017, Judge David Pittaway QC approved a final settlement of Mr Milroy’s claim. The amount of the payment was confidential, but is a substantial sum given the extent of his injuries.
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Steel firm fined £217,000 after worker’s hand is crushed
Cardiff-based steel manufacturing company Rom Ltd has pleaded guilty to breaching safety regulations after a worker suffered crush injuries to his hand. A Health and Safety Executive investigation found the company failed to identify the risks associated with workers manually operating a machine, and that steps were not taken to ensure the machine was correctly guarded.
The worker was removing leftover steel from a machine called the Koch Straightener when he trapped his hand between the rotating rollers inside the machine. He suffered serious crush injuries to his hand and lost the top of his right index finger.
Rom Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, SI 1998/2306, r 11, and has been fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £17,200.63.
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