Six-figure settlement for St Albans man who lost finger and thumb in workplace machine accident

Billy Mortimer, of St Albans, lost a finger and thumb in a workplace incident.

Billy Mortimer, of St Albans, lost a finger and thumb in a workplace incident. - Credit: Irwin Mitchell

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A dad-of-four whose finger and thumb were amputated following a workplace accident has issued an emotional health and safety plea, after lawyers secured him a six-figure settlement regarding the incident.

Billy Mortimer, 63, was operating a rolling machine during his job at Hardall International Ltd in Dunstable when a site worker around eight feet away started using an angle grinder to remove strips of metal from a door.

Billy became distracted when sparks started reaching him and pieces of metal hit him in the face, causing his right hand to be pulled into the rolling machine he was using up to the wrist.

He was rushed to hospital but doctors were unable to save his right index finger and thumb which were amputated. His middle finger also had to be sewed back on.

Billy Mortimer, of St Albans, lost a finger and thumb in a workplace incident.

Billy Mortimer, of St Albans, lost a finger and thumb in a workplace incident. - Credit: Irwin Mitchell

Following the incident, Billy instructed workplace injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help him access the specialist therapies and rehabilitation he requires.

Hardall International admitted liability for his injuries. A separate Health and Safety investigation also found six material breaches of regulations at the company’s site.

Billy Mortimer, of St Albans, lost a finger and thumb in a workplace incident.

Billy Mortimer, of St Albans, lost a finger and thumb in a workplace incident. - Credit: Irwin Mitchell

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After his legal team secured him a settlement, Billy, who had to give up his job at Hardall because of injuries, has called on employers to always put safety first.

Workplace injury lawyer Natasha Fairs, who represented Billy, said: “This case is sadly yet another example of why health and safety should always be a top priority for employers. Billy suffered avoidable and devastating injuries that will impact him for the rest of his life.

Billy Mortimer, of St Albans, lost a finger and thumb in a workplace incident.

Billy Mortimer, of St Albans, lost a finger and thumb in a workplace incident. - Credit: Irwin Mitchell

“While the damage has been done, we hope that this settlement will help Billy access the specialist support he now requires. It’s also a clear reminder why businesses need to put safety at the top of their agenda.”

Billy is married to Maggie, 54, who now has to work two jobs as a dinner lady and retail assistant because her husband has been unable to return to work.

Recalling the incident on March 1 2018, he said: “The worker asked if he could use a nearby bench and I suggested that he should actually use a plasma cutter for a better finish and this could be used outside. However, he went with the angle grinder and sparks flew everywhere. The next thing my hand was in the machine and by then it was too late.”

Billy Mortimer, of St Albans, lost a finger and thumb in a workplace incident.

Billy Mortimer, of St Albans, lost a finger and thumb in a workplace incident. - Credit: Irwin Mitchell

Billy was treated at Luton and Dunstable Hospital and Lister Hospital following the incident. However, he continues to suffer with a range of issues to this day. His hand shakes when he tries to flex his wrist, he suffers daily with pain and has limited grip strength.

Billy added: “The physical impact of the injuries has been massive. I’ve needed help with many things, including daily tasks that people take for granted like washing my hair. I was right-handed so having to learn to try and write or brush my teeth with my left hand were incredibly difficult.

“There has also been a psychological impact. I’ve experienced a lot of low moods due to not being able to work, while I’ve not even been able to do some hobbies either. Everything is an effort, which is just hugely frustrating. I’ve suffered with nightmares and flashbacks too.

“It has been the most challenging time of my life and it has been hard to stay positive at times. However, securing this settlement is a huge relief, as it means I’ll be able to get some vital support going forward.

“I only hope that my story will encourage businesses to think twice about health and safety. As my case shows, it is such an important issue and it cannot be ignored.”

Following the incident, the Health and Safety Executive investigated and note six breaches of health and safety law, including that the system of work used by the company did not keep workers’ hands away from dangerous parts of the rolling machine.

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