A Sellafield worker and Unite member has received a seven figure settlement after he suffered serious amputation injuries at work while employed by Johnson Controls as a mechanical fitter.
Kenneth Brown, a 64 year old father and grandfather who lives in Workington, was working as a mechanical fitter for Johnson Controls which had been sub-contracted to the Sellafield site.
Mr Brown had been working as a banksman and was knocked down by a cherry picker or mobile elevated working platform (MEWP) driven by another one of Johnson Controls' employees.
Johnson Controls Ltd, part of a global organisation which employs more than 160,000 people, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 by failing to ensure the safety of its employees. Despite this, legal representatives of Johnson Controls still alleged that Mr Brown was partly to blame for the accident. However a settlement was reached whereby Mr Brown received a full award of damages.
Mr Brown was walking on the roadway directing the MEWP when without warning the cherry picker moved forward and then proceeded to crush his left leg. As a result Mr Brown sustained extensive crush injuries which led to his left leg being amputated above the knee.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) subsequently investigated this accident and reported that Johnson Controls Ltd had been guilty of a number of breaches of health and safety legislation and an improvement notice was issued.
The improvement notice decreed that Johnson Controls Ltd had to devise a safe system of work when a MEWP is being used in combination with a banksperson/escort and that relevant training should be provided.
The HSE investigation found that Mr Brown and other staff at Johnson Controls had escorted cherry pickers on foot several times a month, for at least 14 months, prior to him being injured.
The only advice the company gave to its employees when directing cherry pickers was to wear a high visibility waistcoat. No specific training was provided for the task to either drivers or persons acting as a banksperson.
Unite regional secretary Mick Whitley said: "Mr Brown has suffered horrific injuries because his employer ignored fundamental health and safety procedures. It is completely unacceptable for an employer to shirk responsibility and try to blame the injured worker in any case. But it is staggering that Johnson Controls Ltd would use such a cynical tactic to try and cut their compensation bill considering the life changing injuries he suffered as result of its negligence.
"I'm pleased we have been successful in securing such a significant level of damages for our member, although this can never compensate for his traumatic ordeal of losing a leg in a workplace accident. With the support of Unite legal services, Kenneth was able to receive expert legal advice and keep 100 per cent of his damages – despite government changes to the way personal injury claims are funded.
"I would like to thank Thompsons Solicitors for representing our member and using their experience of helping victims of serious injuries to secure such high value compensation for Mr Brown."
Contact Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315
Notes to editors:
- Unite is Britain and Ireland's largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.