Worker looked like ‘shark attack’ victim after ‘missile’ gas cylinder shot at him

Karl Lusby still needs further surgery four years on from the accident

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A fabrication worker has been paid a six-figure sum after a gas cylinder shot at him like a "missile" and left him looking like he had been "attacked by a shark".

Karl Lusby's leg was shattered in the accident, which saw him being hit by a gas cylinder which ‘flew like a missile’ across a Hull-based factory.

The 51-year-old needed reconstructive surgery after being left with a broken tibia and fibula, together with extensive nerve and tissue damage.

His injuries were so severe he had to spend a year with a titanium rod and pins in his left leg as well as another year using a metal cage after the bones failed to knit together, reports HullLive.

Karl Lusby's leg was shattered in the incident

Still now, Karl Lusby has to rely on a mobility scooter to walk longer distances

More than four years on after the accident, Mr Lusby is still in need of further treatment and, despite having gone through five surgeries, he is still not able to walk without using crutches and has to rely on a mobility scooter for longer distances.

Redhall Engineering Services has previously said that, since the accident, it has invested further into health and safety systems and procedures to ensure that it maintains a safe working environment for employees.

Mr Lusby, a fabrication engineer who had worked for Redhall Engineering Services Ltd for 17 years, said: "It just felt like I’d been knocked over by a bowling ball which had flown through the air.

“I wasn’t initially in any pain, there was just a large cloud of orange dust and when it cleared I saw my leg looking like it had been attacked by a shark.”

Since the accident in January 2017, both Mr Lusby and his wife Karin have been unable to work, as she has had to provide constant care and support.

“Our lives were forever changed that day and to be honest before this happened to me I’d never really appreciated how difficult life can be when something like this happens,” said Mr Lusby.

Karl Lusby recovering at home since his horrific accident at work

“It impacts on every aspect of your life. I loved my work and my wife had a good job too which she had to give up to look after me.

“We were both people who enjoyed what we did. We worked hard to be able to afford nice holidays and other things that we wanted.

“I’ve come to understand now that the aftermath of an accident, and coping with an injury, is harder than the actual accident itself. I can see how people really struggle to deal with what has happened to them and the change in life.

“I enjoyed work and the purpose it gave me to earn things for us to enjoy. I found it so hard for a long time afterwards, so much so that I think Karin didn’t really want to leave me on my own because I was so down. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and needed help.”

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As part of the legal claim, vital counselling support was provided to Mr Lusby, something he says has proved hugely beneficial.

“I’ve suffered from repeated flashbacks and nightmares, so the counselling support has been crucial for me,” he said.

“It was important to be able to express my frustrations and feelings to somebody other than Karin, who was already doing so much for me and under pressure herself, as she had to help me get dressed and washed, and run around after me day after day. She needed that break too."

As part of the legal case, it was alleged Redhall Engineering Services had breached its duty of care and been negligent in requiring its own staff to decompress used gas and oxygen bottles, rather than use a specialist company.

It was also alleged that the staff member carrying out the task on the day of the accident had not been sufficiently trained, with no appropriate risk assessments undertaken, leaving employees at risk of injury. The firm accepted liability for the accident.

A prosecution by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) resulted in a fine of £14,000 and an order for costs in excess of £2,500 on the basis of a finding that there was no safe system of work in place for the disposal of old gas cylinders.

Mr Lusby, who lives in Holderness, said he had hoped to return to his job in time, but after around a year he was told his services were no longer required.

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“I would much rather have been able to go back and earn a living rather than make a claim, but this wasn’t my fault and shouldn’t have happened to me,” he said.

“When things like this happen and your life is turned upside down, suddenly having to claim benefits and scrape by to pay the bills whilst others continue to enjoy life, you need support.

“We’ve been awarded enough money to be able to buy our own bungalow and invest some money which will benefit my step-daughters and grandkids, and make life comfortable after four years of struggle. The removal of that financial worry is huge.”

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Jane Woodcock, head of personal injury at Hudgell Solicitors, said: “This accident at work happened in completely unacceptable circumstances as employees were being required to carry out a dangerous procedure for which they were completely untrained.

“The process of decommissioning the gas cylinders had previously been outsourced to a specialist company and should have continued to be so. Employees were untrained in this procedure and there had been no appropriate risk assessment, leaving those carrying out the task and those in the vicinity at risk of serious injury.

“Mr Lusby suffered a horrendous, life-changing injury and was perhaps in some way fortunate that his injuries were not life-threatening. Employers have a duty to take all precautions and measures to protect their staff and ensure no aspects of their roles leave them at risk of injury. In Mr Lusby’s case the employer fell very far below the standard the law expects of them.

“Mr Lusby has endured very considerable pain and suffering over a period of years and through no fault of his own his life has been irrevocably changed. We were pleased to secure a significant six-figure settlement for him and to provide security for him for the years ahead.”

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Redhall Engineering Services, of Winestead, appeared before Beverley Magistrates’ Court in June 2018 and pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations.

The company said at the time: "Redhall Engineering Services Limited has been operating since 1991 and during that time health and safety has always been, and remains, a priority for the company.

"Since the accident we have invested even further into our health and safety systems and procedures to ensure that we maintain a safe working environment for our employees."

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