A Glasgow firefighter has been awarded £1.5m in damages after an injury caused by faulty cutting equipment led to the amputation of his hand.
In 2014 Ian McDonald was taking part in a training exercise at Bishopbriggs fire station in East Dunbartonshire. The exercise involved simulating a rescue from a car accident. Mr. McDonald was using hydraulic cutting equipment which malfunctioned and let out a jet of toxic hydraulic fluid at high pressure. The jet was so strong that it pierced his leather safety gloves and the liquid destroyed tissue in his hand.
Describing the incident, Mr. McDonald said: “I had no idea what was going on – my hand felt like it was on fire and was swollen with a painful throbbing feeling… when blood tests revealed I was poisoned, we realised something happened with the cutting gear.”
Mr. McDonald went through 4 years and 40 operations in a fight to save his hand. While medical specialists at Glasgow Royal Infirmary amputated the little finger with his ring finger being removed a year later.
“My dexterity remained pretty good, but the pain was agonising, and nothing would stop it. When I heard the full hand had to go, the idea of being pain-free made it easier to accept.”
Having tried numerous painkillers, botox and acupuncture, in June 2018 he was admitted to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital to have his right hand amputated at the wrist. The procedure took 18 days and six surgeries. Mr. MacDonald now uses a prosthesis.
Solicitors conducted an investigation which found that there had been an inadequate system of maintenance and safety inspections.
An investigation into the incident by the solicitors revealed that, although the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service knew about the potential risks involved, there was an inadequate system of inspection and maintenance for equipment. In addition, protective coverings which would have prevented the injury were not in use.
Solicitor, David Nellaney, said: “The SFRS is undoubtedly a safety-conscious organisation that provides an invaluable service, but on this occasion, it failed in its duty of care to an employee.”
While Mr. McDonald was offered legal representation, he chose his own lawyers to access a specialist prosthetic, instead of a “hook” which was being offered by the NHS.
Mr. McDonald added: ” I’ve still a way to go, but after the support of my family, the doctors and colleagues I finally feel like the dark days are behind me.”
Mr. McDonald has four children, and is recovering at home with his wife Claire currently.
The deputy chief officer of SFRS, David McGown, said commented that it was, “extremely heartening to see that he continues to make a strong recovery”.
He also added: “Following a robust investigation into Mr. McDonald’s injury, we undertook a review of equipment and related safety checks and have taken appropriate steps to minimise the risk of similar incidents happening in the future.”
If you have would like to discuss a similar accident or have been affected by this story, then it is in your best interest to get in contact with us at The Compensation Experts where we can discuss your legal issue and help you to make a claim.