Lawyers Urge Employers To Improve Safety After Bin Man Scarred For Life

Council Worker Speaks About His Ordeal After Suffering Burns At Work

07.08.2013

By Suzanne Rutter

A bin man who has been scarred for life after a corrosive liquid exploded on his arm has joined expert serious injury lawyers to urge employers to provide better protection for workers following the settlement of his case.

Jagdis Kikabhai, of Horwich in Bolton, was carrying out his usual bin collection rounds for Bolton Council in the Chorley New Road area on 17 September 2009 when liquid squirted out from a gap in the side of the wagon, where the lifting cage used to tip the bins connects to the back of the vehicle. The gap was in close proximity to a compacting blade which compresses rubbish.

Jagdis, who was wearing gloves and a short-sleeved t-shirt provided by the council, suffered severe burns to his arm in the incident and was rushed to the accident and emergency ward at Royal Bolton Hospital.

His painful wounds were dressed by nurses before he was readmitted to Wythenshawe Hospital where he underwent a skin graft operation. The dad-of-three is now scarred for life and is extremely self-conscious about the effect the operation has had on the appearance of his skin, particularly as the tattoos he’s had since he was 18-years-old are now mismatched.

After the accident he relied on a friend to help him cook, clean and look after his three children – Rory, Ryan and Lacey.

The 46-year-old instructed specialist serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell who have now secured him an undisclosed sum to cover his pain and suffering. The settlement was agreed following a trial at Manchester County Court where the Judge, Recorder Gregory, found in favour of Jagdis. The ejection of liquid from the gap was foreseeable due to its close proximity to the compactor blade. The council should have considered the risk that this posed to their employees, which had they been identified could have been addressed by providing Jagdis with appropriate protective clothing.

Katie Carroll, an expert serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Manchester office who represented him, said: “We see the devastating consequences serious injuries can have on people’s lives and the burns Jagdis suffered were life-changing for him.

“The scars will be a permanent reminder but the settlement will allow him to move on with his life now he has got a sense of justice for what he’s been through. We hope his case shows employers that the health and safety of their employees should always be a number one priority.”

Jagdis had worked for Bolton Council as a refuse collector for six years when the incident happened.

Doctors at Wythenshawe Hospital gave him strong painkillers to help him cope with the pain he suffered. In 2007 he had also suffered a burn to his eye when harmful liquid was ejected from the wagon, exploding in his face.  He was extremely anxious about returning to work after the second incident in case anything similar happened again.

He said: “At the time of the accident I was wearing thick rubber gloves but just a short sleeved t-shirt, the council had given me. As soon as the liquid touched my arm smoke started to rise from it and I called out to my work mates to help me.  There was no fluid washer or a first aid kit in the wagon so my colleague tried to wash off the liquid with a fizzy drink he had to hand. My arm started to blister and it was incredibly painful although I’ve no idea what the actual liquid was.

“I was rushed to A & E where my arm was bandaged up and I was sent home before being called back to Wythenshawe Hospital for a skin graft. I feel extremely self conscious about the scarring and because it’s so noticeable everyone asks me about it.

“When I was 18 I had tattoos along both my forearms and the scarring is even more obvious because the patterns of my tattoos have been disrupted. I’ve been left with a meshed pattern on my skin which I try to cover up now with long sleeved shirts. The whole experience has really knocked my confidence.

“I hope my experience shows the effect accidents at work can have on people’s lives and how important it is for employers to assess the potential risks of injury and protect workers from harm by providing them with the right equipment and clothing. Thankfully, I’m now working hard to start my own business and the settlement will help me get back on my feet and put this terrible ordeal behind me.”

For more information about Irwin Mitchell's expertise relating to Burns, Scars and Laceration Claims.