Adjusting to life after workplace injury – Man who lost fingers in horror workplace incident speaks out

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A Queensland man who lost both ring fingers and his right thumb after his hands were crushed in an industrial incident in May last year, is speaking out about workplace safety ahead of National Safe Work Month.

Dean Reid had to have his toe amputated and transplanted onto his hand following the incident. Dean was working as a trainee line operator at a manufacturing company when his hands were crushed by a roller.

“It completely crushed my hands. None of my knuckles bend and because of the scar tissue, I can’t make a fist. There are many everyday things I can no longer do, even buttoning up my shirt. It’s been absolutely heartbreaking for my family,” Mr. Reid said.

“I knew straight away it was bad and I went into shock pretty quick. I felt all the bones crushing, I remember hearing every crunch and grind and I knew I was stuffed. I couldn’t get my hands out.”

“The first operation was 24 and a half hours. I have had to have both my ring fingers and my thumb amputated. The decision to remove my toe and put it on my hand was pretty easy in the end. I was a bit spun out by it all at the start but now I have finally got to a point where I am calling it my thumb, it is my thumb now.”

“It has flipped my life 180 degrees. I can’t butter bread, I can’t do up my shirt, I can’t do up my pants. My wife has just been amazing; she has helped me so much. It’s been really hard on the kids and just really difficult to deal with.”

“I don’t have much movement, my individual joints can’t move but I can do some things better than I thought I might. I thought I might have no fingers at all.

“My foot has caused more problems. I have had problems with it healing and I walk with a bit of a limp. My leg has lost a bit of form and it affected my balance early on but now it is fine.”

Maurice Blackburn Lawyers said October was National Safe Work Month, which reminds all employers on the need to prioritise safety in the workplace.

“Australian businesses have a serious obligation to ensure their staff are not injured on the job,” said James Goddard, Associate, Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.

“Dean has suffered a devastating injury and given the circumstances that lead to it in his workplace there is an ongoing investigation by Workplace Health and Safety. Because it is part of the investigation we can’t say too much but it is safe to say Dean has suffered a horrific injury.”

“He was operating a piece of machinery that flattened plastics through rollers. The machine was fitted with a safety device that would automatically shut off the rollers if it was breached. We know this safety feature wasn’t working for reasons which are unclear, but despite this Dean was required use the machine and his hands have been crushed.”

“This was a completely preventable injury that has had a catastrophic impact on Dean’s life. Employers are responsible for providing a safe workplace, it’s the law.”

“Already 125 people have been killed at work this year, thousands more have been injured and the ripple effect on families and communities is devastating. Australian employers must provide a safe workplace and what has happened to Dean is an important reminder of that.”

Source: Workplace horror: Doctors use toe to replace crushed thumb

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