Keith Hawley, a retired rail worker from , Chaddesden who claims that he was sacked after following two incidents where he sustained serious injuries at work has stated that he felt relieved after the company involved, Balfour Beatty, was ordered to pay fines of £8,000 and costs of £41,438 by Nottingham Crown Court for violating health and safety regulations. Mr Hawley worked for Balfour Beatty for 12 years. He sustained two hand injuries less than a year apart and claims that the company later saw that he was “dismissed for gross misconduct”. Consequently, he developed depression but said that he still felt a sense of “closure” due to the Nottingham Crown Court verdict
The first accident occurred when Mr Hawley was trying to move a large piece of rail track into a press at the Balfour Beatty factory in Sandiacreub May 2009 . His right hand was subsequently caught between the rail and a conveyor roller and two of his fingers were crushed and he sustained flesh wounds. In March 2010, while carrying out the same work, Mr Hawley’s other hand was also seriously injured after becoming trapped. His left little finger was crushed and partial amputation was required for his ring finger. Following this, a disciplinary action was held against him and he was subsequently fired. He went on to say that he settled out of court prior to an unfair dismissal tribunal being held.
The HSE investigation discovered that when both incidents occurred, the roller machine did not have a sufficient guarding system that would leave workers adequately protected. Apparently the company was actually in the middle of fitting a guarding system because of the first accident, but it had not been completed. Balfour Beatty Rail Track Systems Ltd, for failing to provide a safe system of work, was found guilty of violating part of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
Mr Hawley said he felt that he had closure following the verdict which has left him relieved. He then stated –
“After I lost my job I tried to get another job but had panic attacks before my interviews.”
On the matter, HSE inspector Brian Price said that both incidents were avoidable and that there were other systems of work that could have been used instead of the dangerous systems that workers like Keith Hawley were forced to adopt. He then stated –
“The fact that this incident happened once was bad enough but for it to have happened a second time, to the same man, is deplorable. Balfour Beatty should have acted a lot quicker than they did. Mr Hawley has suffered unnecessarily because of their failings.”
A spokesman for Balfour Beatty stated:
“Although we no longer operate the Sandiacre manufacturing plant where this incident occurred, the company will ensure that these types of accidents are prevented in the future.We take the safety of all our employees very seriously and we were pleased that this was acknowledged in today’s judgement.”