We helped Zbigniew Fruchauf, a Polish national, who was injured while working at a dock. The incident happened when Mr Fruchauf was helping a crane lift large reels of metal onto the back of a flat-bed truck.
He was standing on the truck, unhooking the load-bearing chains as the reels were lifted into place, but one reel was released early by the crane operator and landed heavily on the truck bed, tipping it over.
Mr Fruchauf lost his balance and fell to the ground, in the process shattering his right leg below the knee and spraining his left ankle.
He was represented by one of our specialist workplace accident lawyers, who said: “As with so many other people in his situation, Mr Fruchauf is the victim of an employer that has taken short-cuts with health and safety in the belief that they would get away with it because the person involved did not speak English as a first language,
“It’s tempting to call this a freak accident, but this sort of this happens all-too-often because getting a migrant worker to do jobs that a UK native wouldn’t is taking the easy route – employers are effectively gambling with these people’s lives.
“They could either spend time and money enforcing rigorous health and safety procedure, or give them a miss and hope nothing goes wrong. Inevitably, things do go wrong and people are being hurt far more frequently than they should be.
Mr Fruchauf had been recruited by a Gateshead-based agency to work for the Seaham Dock Company – he had only been in the country for a few days before the accident had happened and had received no training to prepare him for working with cranes.
He has been forced to return to Poland as he cannot work and requires ongoing medical treatment, leaving his wife and young daughter behind in the UK.
Mr Fruchauf said: “This has been a terrible ordeal – having to leave my wife and daughter along in the UK while I recover from my injuries. I cannot wait to be fit enough to get back to work and see my family again.”
“The incident happened so quickly, there was nothing I could do to avoid falling. I was given no proper training for dealing with a crane or for handling such heavy loads.”
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