Apple picker's compensation illustrates importance of action

In the current economic climate, holding down a steady job is arguably more important than ever, especially when the cost of living has continued to rise throughout the recession. Indeed, many people have found themselves putting work ahead of almost everything else this year, as rising unemployment, increased domestic energy bills and inflated supermarket prices have contributed to one of the worst economic years in living memory. However, putting work ahead of safety should never be an issue, which is why the Health and Safety Executive takes a very dim view of those employers who risk the life and limb of any employee.

In fact, all employers are bound by the law to follow guidelines that are aimed at ensuring the health and safety of employees at work. One such measure is to carry out a risk assessment, which essentially identifies the possible causes of harm to employees so that the necessary precautions can be taken. A risk assessment can cover any aspect of the working environment but will often focus on potentially hazardous tasks, such as operating heavy machinery. However, the recent case of an apple picker whose index and middle fingers were severed in an accident at work serves to highlight how danger can be found virtually anywhere. Furthermore, the incident demonstrates the importance of chasing compensation through the courts when events turn sour.

Dave Bowkett, aged 53 years, suffered the unusual farming accident whilst working as an apple picker on Manor Farm in Little Dilwyn, Hereford. In December 2006, Mr. Bowkett’s left hand become trapped in faulty machinery on the farm, which resulted in the loss of two fingers, a loss that was unable to be fully remedied by surgeons. Understandably, Mr. Bowkett spent the next five months healing both physically and emotionally, although his subsequent return to work was met with a fairly abrupt redundancy. Furthermore, the accident at work victim was reportedly forced out of his rented cottage on the farm, where he had lived and worked for approximately five years. As such, it would appear on the facts that Mr. Bowkett was not only forced to endure a painful and debilitating injury as a result of the faulty machinery, but his employer effectively washed its hands of him thereafter.

Based on the circumstances and seriousness of the accident and the events that followed, it is also understandable that Mr. Bowkett chose to pursue the claim in the courts. However, the case was actually settled out of court after the defendant, Molly Powell, admitted negligence. Accordingly, Dave Bowkett has just received a settlement of £45,000, which will no doubt help towards rebuilding his life in the new year. Indeed, it is important that other victims of accidents in the workplace take note of Mr. Bowkett’s unfortunate incident and subsequent actions, as it is clear that compensation can be successfully pursued when injuries are sustained at work.

In fact, it is commonly thought that one of the chief reasons why victims of accidents in the workplace do not always pursue compensation claims against their employers is that they are ultimately fearful of losing their jobs. Furthermore, some fear that a court case against a former employer will not usually look good on a C.V., so many victims opt to deal with their plight in silence. However, there are laws in place to protect such people, who have every right to claim compensation for injuries caused by somebody else’s negligence and decent potential employers will entirely understand this. Moreover, as Mr. Bowkett proved, the compensation itself can lead to an entirely fresh start.

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