An accident at work has had a lifelong effect on service engineer, Kevin Edwards.
Kevin, 54, was injured when he was moving a piece of heavy bakery equipment at a superstore in Hereford.
An industrial dough mixer, weighing around three quarters of a tonne was dropped on his right hand, resulting in the loss of his index finger and damage to his middle finger.
The accident happened because hoisting equipment that should have been used for the lift was not available for the job.
Instead, Kevin and a fellow worker were left to move it manually. “The dough mixer was on a wooden pallet and we needed to bring it down to floor level.
“We had managed to move it onto wooden blocks and were in the process of struggling to bring it to floor level.
“Unfortunately, the other worker let the machine slip and the mixer landed on my fingers. I knew instantly that I had lost my index finger.”
The metal iron casing of the machine crushed his index finger up to the first knuckle.
A risk assessment had been carried out for tasks such as this but unfortunately on this occasion, the vital hoisting equipment wasn’t available on site.
After the accident, other workers helped to lift the machinery off his hand and he was taken to a local hospital.
At first, doctors thought there might be a chance of saving the finger but after a full examination, they decided it was too badly damaged and he was transferred to a hospital in Gwent to have it removed.
The accident took place at around 10am but Kevin wasn’t taken to surgery until 7pm because patients with more serious injuries had to be seen first.
“One woman had been kicked in the face by a horse and obviously I didn’t mind her going in before me as long as the doctor gave me something for the pain.
“I think I was on morphine for a while before my finger was operated on.
“I was kept awake during the procedure, as the doctor wanted me to be able to move my fingers.”
Time Off Work
Kevin, who lived in Cambridge at the time, was off work for a month before returning to work and undertook light duties for a few weeks until he was ready to return to his job.
“The most difficult part was having to get used to using my middle finger to do all the jobs that my index finger would normally do.
“Unfortunately I’m right handed so I had to learn to write using my middle finger instead of my index finger too.
“Simple jobs which I had taken for granted now became difficult, such as unscrewing nuts and bolts and opening screw top bottles.”
After the accident Kevin had to meet with a panel of doctors including a consultant who assessed the damage to his right hand.
It was decided that the disability he had suffered made him eligible for a disability pension – but only of around 50p a week for the rest of his working life.
So instead of receiving it weekly he was given a lump sum – but this was the only compensation he received for his injury.
“The company I worked for said they hadn’t been negligent and I was told if I wanted compensation I’d have to sue my co-worker which I didn’t follow up.
“It took me a very long time to get used to doing menial tasks without an index finger. For quite a while afterwards, I’d go to do something and forget that I was missing an index finger.”
But he is now quite used to it and says it has become the source of jokes within his family.
“I also managed to convince my young nieces that I lost my finger up my nose – and that has made sure they don’t develop the bad habit of picking their noses!”