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Welder Blinded In Explosion Focuses On Future As Family Moves Into New Home Thanks To Expert Lawyers' Continued Support

Dad Looks Forward Christmas And Regaining Independence Following Agreement

19.12.2017

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

A welder blinded when an oil drum exploded in his face at work has moved into a new home and got a new guide dog after expert workplace injury lawyers secured him a settlement from his former employers.

Andrew Foster and his family are looking forward to their first Christmas in their new bungalow in Kent following the agreement between the company he worked for and his legal team at Irwin Mitchell.

The 41-year-old suffered severe facial injuries when an oil drum he was cutting with a plasma cutter exploded at Highway Care Ltd’s premises near Maidstone in August 2012.

During the explosion, the drum’s lid struck the father-of-two in the face. He suffered catastrophic facial injuries, including fractures to his eye sockets, jaw and cheekbones and a serious brain injury. He was airlifted to King’s College Hospital and underwent emergency surgery to reconstruct his face. As a result of the injuries he lost vision in both of his eyes.

Following the incident Andrew instructed specialist workplace injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help him access funds to secure his family’s financial security and enable him to access the support he needs during his recovery.

Andrew’s legal team at Irwin Mitchell has now secured an undisclosed settlement from Highway Care following a meeting on December 12. The money has helped fund Andrew’s move into a bungalow in Minster on Sea, Sheerness, with wife, Donna, 39, and their children 18-year-old Keenan and Kirstie, 12.

Guide Dogs For The Blind has also given Andrew a golden retriever guide dog called Nevis.

Sarah Griggs, an expert workplace injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, represented Andrew.

Expert Opinion
The injuries Andrew suffered because of failings by his employer were truly terrible.

“The day Andrew was injured changed his life forever and he has faced a long journey to get to this stage in his rehabilitation.

“We are so pleased that Andrew, his family and Nevis are enjoying their new bungalow and are settling in well. Their move into their new home is a major milestone in Andrew’s recovery.

“Nothing can turn the clock back but we are determined to keep supporting Andrew to ensure his family have the security they need and Andrew receives the much-needed care he also needs to continue his recovery.”
Sarah Griggs, Partner

Despite surgery Andrew lost his right eye and has no vision in his left eye, which meant he was registered blind shortly after the accident. His injuries have also significantly changed his appearance and Andrew permanently wears sunglasses as he is conscious of the impact this can have on his loved ones.
 
Following the incident on 6 August, 2012, a Health and Safety Executive investigation was launched. Highway Care Ltd was last year fined £660,000 after it pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court to failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of its employees at the two sites and, in particular, failing to provide such information, instruction, training and supervision in relation to use of a plasma cutter.
 
Andrew said: “The last five years have been a real struggle as I attempted to come to terms with my injuries and the how my life has been changed forever. 

“I was initially very reluctant to have a guide dog as I was attacked by a dog when I was young and have not trusted dogs since.

“However, myself and Nevis have built a real bond. He is my new best friend and has helped me regain some of the independence I have craved since I lost my eyesight.

“His arrival has certainly lifted spirits in the house as we know the benefit he will have to my quality of life. Before I was stuck at home a lot but I can now do things that I was unable to do on my own previously such as going for a walk. I have also joined a shooting club for the visually impaired which is going great. I have met new friends and am preparing to take part in competition which I’m really looking forward to.

“Acknowledging that I will need support for the rest of my life was hard to accept but moving into our new bungalow and Nevis becoming one of the family has provided a major boost to everyone. We’re determined to make the most of this Christmas and have a real family celebration.

“I’m now focused on concentrating on the future and regaining more of my independence rather than dwelling on the past.”

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in handling workplace injury cases